Wednesday, October 10, 2007


The Black-Bearded Barbarian by Marian Keith

The Black-Bearded Barbarian
by Marian Keith
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
Marian Keith.
Toronto, Canada, April 24, 1912.
[1] The name by which George Leslie Mackay was known among the
Chinese of north Formosa.
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
narrowest hairbreadth.
"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
feet across.
"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.
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:
Presented to
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.
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
on board?"
* 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
its beauty.
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
called Formosa.
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
the harbor.
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
a hill.
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
the night.
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."
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
the harbor.
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
top only.
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
Canadian gray.
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
joyful welcome.
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."
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
all possible.
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
Jesus Christ!"
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.
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
of Formosa.
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
western Canada.
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
his head.
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
surrounding valleys.
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
had disappeared.
"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
another cry.
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 Goko-
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
band of Christians in Go-ko-khi, and two of the young people were
about to be married. It was the first Christian marriage in the
place and Kai Bok-su was called upon to officiate. There was a
great deal of opposition raised among the heathen, but after
seeing the ceremony, they all voted a Christian wedding
everything that was beautiful and good.
When they returned from their trip, Mackay and A Hoa with the
assistance of some of their Christian friends set about looking
for a new house in a more wholesome district. It was much easier
for the missionary to rent a place now, and he managed to secure
a comfortable home upon the bluff above the town. It was a dryer
situation and much more healthful. Here one room was used as a
study and every morning when not away on a tour a party of young
men gathered in it for lessons. Sometimes, what with traveling,
preaching, training his students, visiting the sick, and pulling
teeth, Mackay had scarcely time to eat, and very little to sleep.
But always as he came and went on his travels, his eyes would
wander to the mountains where the savages lived, and with all his
heart he would wish that he might visit them also.
His Chinese friends held up their hands in dismay when he
broached the subject. To the mountains where the Chhi-hoan lived!
Did Kai Bok-su not know that every man of them was a practised
head-hunter, and that behind every rock and tree and in the
darkness of the forests they lay in wait for any one who went
beyond the settled districts? Yes, Kai Bok-su knew all that, but
he could not quite explain that it was just that which made the
thought of a visit to them seem so alluring, just that which made
him so anxious to tell them of Jesus Christ, who wished all men
to live as brothers. A Hoa and a few others who had caught the
spirit of the true soldier of the cross understood. For they had
learned that one who follows Jesus must be ready to dare
anything, death included, to carry the news of his salvation to
the dark corners of the world.
But the days were so filled with preaching, teaching, and
touring, that for some time Mackay had no opportunity for a trip
into the head-hunters' territory. And then one day, quite
unexpectedly, his chance came. There sailed into Tamsui harbor,
one hot afternoon, a British man-of-war, named The Dwarf. Captain
Bax from this vessel visited Tamsui, and expressed a desire to
see something of the life of the savages in the mountains. This
was Mackay's opportunity, and in spite of protests from his
friends he offered to accompany the captain. So together they
started off, the sailor-soldier of England and the soldier of the
cross, each with the same place in view but each with a very
different object.
It took three days journey from Tamsui across rice-fields and up
hillsides to reach even the foot of the mountains. Here there
lived a village of natives, closely related to the savages. But
they were not given to head-hunting and were quite friendly with
the people about them. Mackay had met some of these people on a
former trip inland, and now he and Captain Bax hired their chief
and a party of his men to guide them up into savage territory.
The travelers slept that night in the village, and before dawn
were up and ready to start on their dangerous undertaking. Before
them in the gray dawn rose hill upon hill, each loftier than the
last, till they melted into the mountains, the territory of the
dreaded head-hunters. They started off on a steady tramp, up
hills, down valleys, and across streams, until at last they came
to the foot of the first mountain.
Before them rose its sheer side, towering thirty-five hundred
feet above their heads. It was literally covered with rank growth
of all kinds, through which it was impossible to move. So a plan
of march had to be decided upon. In front went a line of men with
long sharp knives. With these they cut away the creepers and
tangled scrub or undergrowth. Next came the coolies with the
baggage, and last the two travelers. It was slow work, and
sometimes the climb was so steep they held their breath, as they
crept over a sheer ledge and saw the depth below to which they
might easily be hurled. The chief of the guides himself collapsed
in one terrible climb, and his men tied rattan ropes about him
and hauled him up over the steepest places.
During this wearisome ascent the most untiring one was the
missionary; and the sailor often looked at him in amazement. His
lithe, wiry frame never seemed to grow weary. He was often in the
advance line, cutting his way through the tangle, and here on
that first afternoon he met with an unpleasant adventure.
The natives had warned the two strangers to be on the lookout for
poisonous snakes, and Mackay's year in Formosa had taught him to
be wary. But he had forgotten all danger in the toilsome climb.
He was soon reminded of it. They were passing up a slope covered
with long dense grass when a rustling at his side made the young
missionary pause. The next moment a huge cobra sprang out from a
clump of grass and struck at him. Mackay sprang aside just in
time to escape its deadly fangs. The guides rushed up with their
spears only to see its horrible scaly length disappear in the
long grass.
That was not the only escape of the young adventurer, for there
were wild animals as well as poisonous snakes along the line of
march, and the man in the front was always in danger. But at the
front Mackay must be in spite of all warning. Nobody moved fast
enough for him.
At last they reached the summit of the range. They were now on
the dividing line between Chinese ground and savage territory,
and the men who dared go a step farther went at terrible risk.
The head-hunters would very likely see that they did not return.
But Mackay was all for pushing forward, and Captain Bax was no
less eager. So they spent a night in the forest and the next day
marched on up another and higher range. As they journeyed, the
travelers could not but burst into exclamations of delight at the
loveliness about them. Behind those great trees and in those
tangles of vines might lurk the head-hunters, but for all that
the beauty of the place made them forget the dangers. The great
banyan trees whose branches came down and took root in the earth,
making a wonderful round leafy tent, grew on every side. Camphor
trees towered far above them and then spread out great branches
sixty or seventy feet from the ground. Then there was the rattan
creeping out over the tops of the other trees and making a thick
canopy through which the hot tropical sun-rays could not
And the flowers! Sometimes Mackay and Bax would stand amazed at
their beauty. They came one afternoon to an open glade in the
cool green dimness of the forest. On all sides the stately
tree-ferns rose up thirty or forty feet above them, and
underneath grew a tangle of lovely green undergrowth.
And upon this green carpet it seemed to their dazzled eyes that
thousands of butterflies of the loveliest form and color had just
alighted. And not only butterflies, but birds and huge insects
and all sorts of winged creatures, pink and gold and green and
scarlet and blue, and all variegated hues. But the lovely things
sat motionless, sending out such a delightful perfume that there
could be no doubt that they were flowers,--the wonderful orchids
of Formosa! Mackay was a keen scientist, always highly interested
in botany, and he was charmed with this sight. There were many
such in the forest, and often he would stop spellbound before a
blaze of flowers hanging from tree or vine or shrub. Then he
would look up at the tangled growths of the bamboo, the palm, and
the elegant tree-fern, standing there all silent and beautiful,
and he would be struck by the harmony between God's work and
Word. "I can't keep from studying the flora of Formosa," he said
to Captain Bax. "What missionary would not be a better man, the
bearer of a richer gospel, what convert would not be a more
enduring Christian from becoming acquainted with such wonderful
works of the Creator?"
At last they stood on the summit of the second range and saw
before them still more mountains, clothed from summit to base
with trees. They were now right in savage territory and their
guide clambered out upon a spur of rock and announced that there
was a party of head-hunters in the valley below. He gave a long
halloo. From away down in the valley came an answering call,
ringing through the forest. Then far down through the thicket
Mackay's sharp eyes descried the party coming up to meet them.
Just then their own guide gave the signal to move on, and the
missionary and Captain Bax walked down the hill--the first white
men who had ever come out to meet those savages.
Half-way down the slope the two parties came face to face. The
head-hunters were a wild, uncouth-looking company, armed to the
teeth. They all carried guns, spears, and knives and some had
also bows and arrows slung over their backs. Their faces were
hideously tattooed in a regular pattern, while they wore no more
clothes than were necessary. A sort of sack of coarse linen with
holes in the sides for their arms, served as the chief garment,
and generally the only one. Every one wore a broad belt of woven
rattan in which was stuck his crooked pointed knife. Some of the
younger men had their coats ornamented with bright red and blue
threads woven into the texture. They had brass rings on their
arms and legs too, and even sported big earrings. These were ugly
looking things made of bamboo sticks. The head-hunters were all
barefooted, but most of them wore caps--queer-looking things,
made of rattan. From many of them hung bits of skin of the boar
or other wild animals they had killed. They stood staring
suspiciously at the two strangers. Never before had they seen a
white man, and the appearance of the naval officer and the
missionary, so different from themselves, and yet so different
from their hated enemies, the Chinese, filled them with amazement
and a good deal of suspicion. After a little talk with the
guides, however, the visitors were allowed to pass on. As soon as
they began to move, the savages fell into line behind them and
followed closely. The two white men, walking calmly onward, could
not help thinking how easy it would be for one of those
fierce-looking tattooed braves to win applause by springing upon
both of them and carrying their heads in triumph to the next
As they came down farther into the valley, they passed the place
where the savages had their camp. Here naked children and
tattooed women crept out of the dense woods to stare at the
queer-looking Chinamen who had white faces and wore no cue.
The march through this valley, even without the head-hunters at
their heels, would not have been easy. The visitors clambered
over huge trunks blown across the path, and tore their clothes
and hands scrambling through the thorny bushes. The sun was still
shining on the mountain-peaks far above them, but away down here
in the valley it was rapidly growing dark and very cold. They had
almost decided to stop and wait for morning when a light ahead
encouraged them to go on. They soon came upon a big camp-fire and
round it were squatted several hundred savages. The firelight
gleaming upon the dark, fierce faces of the head-hunters and on
their spears and knives, made a startling picture.
They were round the visitors immediately, staring at the two
white men in amazement. The party of savages who had escorted
them seemed to be making some explanation of their appearance,
for they all subsided at last and once more sat round their fire.
The newcomers started a fire of their own, and their servants
cooked their food. The white men were in momentary danger of
their lives. But they sat on the ground before the fire and
quietly ate their supper while hundreds of savage eyes were fixed
upon them in suspicious, watchful silence.
The meal over the servants prepared a place for the travelers to
sleep, and while they were so doing, the young missionary was not
idle. He longed to speak to these poor, darkened heathen, but
they could not understand Chinese. However, he found several poor
fellows lying prostrate on the ground, overcome with malaria, and
he got his guide to ask if he might not give the sick ones
medicine. Being allowed to do so, he gave each one a dose of
quinine. The poor creatures tried to look their gratitude when
the terrible chills left them, and soon they were able to sink
into sleep.
Before he retired to his own bed of boughs, the young missionary
sang that grand old anthem which these lonely woods and their
savage inhabitants had never yet heard:
All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.
But these poor people could not "sing to the Lord," for they had
never yet so much as heard his name.
All night the missionary lay on the ground, finding the chill
mountain air too cold for sleep, and whenever he looked out from
his shelter of boughs he saw hundreds of savage eyes, gleaming in
the firelight, still wide open and fixed upon him.
Day broke late in the valley, but the travelers were astir in the
morning twilight. The mountain-tops were touched with rosy light
even while it was dark down in these forest depths.
The chilled white men were glad to get up and exercise their
stiffened limbs. There were several of their party who could
speak both Chinese and the dialect of these mountaineers, and
through them Mackay persuaded the chief of the tribe to take them
to visit his village.
He seemed reluctant at first and there was much discussion with
his braves. Evidently they were more anxious to go on a head-hunt
than to act the part of hosts. However, after a great deal of
chatter, they consented, and the chief and his son with thirty
men separated themselves from the rest of the band and led the
way out of the valley up the mountainside. The travelers had to
stop often, for, besides the natural difficulties of the way, the
chief proved a new obstacle. Every mile or so he would apparently
repent of his hospitality. He would stop, gather his tattooed
braves about him and confer with them, while his would-be
visitors sat on the ground or a fallen tree-trunk to await his
pleasure. Finally he would start off again, the travelers
following, but no sooner were they under way than again their
uncertain guide would stop. Once he and his men stood motionless,
listening. Away up in the boughs of a camphor tree a little
tailor-bird was twittering. The savages listened as though to the
voice of an oracle.
"What are they doing?" Mackay asked of one of his men, when the
head-hunters stopped a second time and stared earnestly at the
boughs above.
"Bird-listening," explained the guide. A few more questions drew
from him the fact that the savages believed the little birds
would tell them whether or not they should bring these strangers
home. They always consulted the birds when starting out on a
head-hunt, he further explained. If the birds gave a certain kind
of chirp and flew in a certain direction, then all was well, and
the hunters would go happily forward. But if the birds acted in
the opposite way, nothing in the world could persuade the chief
to go on. Evidently the birds gave their permission to bring the
travelers home, for in spite of many halts, the savages still
moved forward.
They had been struggling for some miles through underbrush and
prickly rattan and the white men's clothes were torn and their
hands scratched. Now, however, they came upon a well-beaten path,
winding up the mountainside, and it proved a great relief to the
weary travelers. But here occurred another delay. The savages all
stopped, and the chief approached Mackay and spoke to him through
the interpreter. Would the white man join him in a head-hunting
expedition, was his modest request. There were some Chinese not
so far below them, cutting out rattan, and he was sure they could
secure one or more heads. He shook the big net head-bag that hung
over his shoulder and grinned savagely as he made his proposal.
If the white men and their party would come at the enemy from one
side, he and his men would attack them from the other, he said,
and they would be sure to get them all. The incongruity of a
Christian missionary being invited on a head-hunt struck Captain
Bax as rather funny in spite of its gruesomeness. This was a
delicate situation to handle, but Mackay put a bold front on it.
He answered indignantly that he and his friend had come in peace
to visit the chief, and that he was neither kind nor honorable in
trying to get his visitors to fight his battles.
The interpreter translated and for a moment several pairs of
savage eyes gleamed angrily at the bold white man. But second
thoughts proved calmer. After another council the savages moved
They were now at the top of a range, and every one was ordered to
halt and remain silent. Mackay thought that advice was again to
be asked of some troublesome little birds, but instead the
savages raised a peculiar long-drawn shout. It was answered at
once from the opposite mountain-top, and immediately the whole
party moved on down the slope.
Here was the same lovely tangle of vines and ferns and beautiful
flowers. Monkeys sported in the trees and chattered and scolded
the intruders. Down one range and up another they scrambled and
at last they came upon the village of the head-hunters.
It lay in a valley in an open space where the forest trees had
been cleared away. It consisted of some half-dozen houses or huts
made of bamboo or wickerwork, and the place seemed literally
swarming with women and children and noisy yelping dogs. But even
these could not account for the terrible din that seemed to fill
the valley. Such unearthly yells and screeches the white men had
never heard before.
"What is it?" asked Captain Bax. "Has the whole village gone
Mackay turned to one of his guides, and the man explained that
the noise came from a village a little farther down the valley. A
young hunter had returned with a Chinaman's head, and his friends
were rejoicing over it. The merrymaking sounded to the visitors
more like the howling of a pack of fiends, for it bore no
resemblance to any human sounds they had ever heard.
Fortunately they were invited to stop at the nearer village and
were not compelled to take part in the horrible celebration. They
were taken at once to the chief's house. It was the best in the
village, and boasted of a floor, made of rattan ropes half an
inch thick. All along the outside wall, under the eaves, hung a
row of gruesome ornaments, heads of the boar and deer and other
wild animals killed in the chase, and here and there mingled with
them the skulls of Chinamen. The house held one large room, and,
as it was a cold evening, a fire burned at either end of it. At
one end the men stood chatting, at the other the women squatted.
The visitors were invited to sit by the men's fire. There were
several beds along the wall, two of which were offered to the
strangers. But they were not prepared to remain for the night,
and had decided to start back before the shadows fell.
The whole village came to the chief's house and crowded round the
newcomers, men first, women and children on the outskirts, and
dogs still farther back. Several men came forward and claimed
Mackay as a friend. They touched their own breasts and then his,
in salutation, grinning in a most friendly manner. The young
missionary was at first puzzled, then smiled delightedly. They
were some of the poor fellows to whom he had given quinine the
evening before in the valley.
This greeting seemed to encourage the others. They became more
friendly and suddenly one man who had been circling round the
visitors touched the back of Mackay's head and exclaimed, "They
do not wear the cue! They are our kinsmen." From that moment they
were treated with far greater kindness, and on several other
visits that Mackay made to the head-hunters, they always spoke
with interest of him as kinsman.
But all danger was not over. The savages were still suspicious,
and at any moment the newcomers might excite them. So they
decided to start back at once, while every one was in a friendly
mood. They made presents to the chief and some of his leading
men; and left with expressions of good-will on both sides.
By evening they had reached the valley where they had first met
the savages and here they prepared to spend the night. They had
no sooner kindled their fires than from the darkness on every
side shadowy forms silently emerged,--the savages come to visit
them! They glided out of the black forest into the ring of
firelight and squatted upon the ground until fully five hundred
dusky faces looked out at the travelers from the gloom. It was
rather an unpleasant situation, there in the depths of the
forest, but Mackay turned it to good account. First he and
Captain Bax made presents to the headmen and they were as pleased
as children to receive the gay ornaments and bright cloth the
travelers gave them. And then Mackay called their interpreter to
his side and they stood up together, facing the crowd. Speaking
through his interpreter, the missionary said he wished to tell
them a story. These mountain savages were veritable children in
their love for a story, as they were in so many other ways, and
their eyes gleamed with delight.
It was a wonderful story he told them, the like of which they had
never heard before. It was about the great God, who had made the
earth and the people on it, and was the Father of them all. He
told how God loved everybody, because they were his children.
Chinese, white men beyond the sea like himself and Captain Bax,
the people of the mountains,--all were God's children. And so all
men were brothers, and should love God their Father and each
other. And because God loved his children so, he sent his Son,
Jesus Christ, to live among men and to die for them. He told the
story simply and beautifully, just as he would to little
children, and these children of the forest listened and their
savage eyes grew less fierce as they heard for the first time of
the story of the Savior.
The next day, after a toilsome journey, the travelers reached the
plain below. They had made their dangerous trip and had escaped
the head-hunters, but as fierce an enemy was lying in wait for
both, an enemy that in Formosa devours native and foreigner
alike. Captain Bax was the first to be attacked. All day, as they
descended the mountain, the rain came down in torrents, a real
Formosan rain that is like the floodgates opening. The travelers
were drenched and chilly, and just as they emerged from the
forest Captain Bax succumbed to the enemy. Malaria had smitten
Shaking with chills and then burning with fever, he was placed in
a sedan-chair and carried the remainder of the way, three days'
journey, to the coast, where the medical attendants on board his
ship cured him. Mackay was feeling desperately ill all the way
across the plain, but with his usual determination he refused to
give in until he almost staggered across the threshold of his
The house had been closed in his absence. It was now damp and
chilly and everything was covered with mold. He lay down in his
bed, alternately shivering with cold and burning with fever. In
the next room A Hoa, who had gone to bed also, heard his teeth
chattering and came to him at once. It was a terrible thing to
the young fellow to see his dauntless Kai Bok-su overcome by any
kind of force. It seemed impossible that he who had cured so many
should become a victim himself. A Hoa proved a kind nurse. He
stayed by the bedside all night, doing everything in his power to
allay the fever. His efforts proved successful, and in a few days
the patient was well. But never again was he quite free from the
dreaded disease, and all the rest of his life he was subject to
the most violent attacks of malaria, a terrible memento by which
he was always to remember his first visit to the headhunters.
Up the river to Go-ko-khi! That was always a joy, and whenever
Mackay could take a day from his many duties, with A Hoa and one
or more other students, he would go up and visit old Thah-so and
the kindly people of this little village.
One day, after they had preached in the empty granary and the
rain had come in, Mr. Tan, the headman, walked up the village
street with them, and he made them an offer. They might have the
plot of ground opposite his house for a chapel-site. This was
grand news. A chapel in north Formosa! Mackay could hardly
believe it, but it seemed that there really was to be one. There
were many Christians in Go-ko-khi now, and each one was ready for
work. Some collected stones, others prepared sun-dried bricks,
others dug the foundation, and the first church in north Formosa
was commenced.
Now Go-ko-khi was, unfortunately, near the great city of
Bang-kah. This was the most hostile and wicked place in all that
country, and A Hoa and Mackay had been stoned out of it on their
visit there. The people in Bang-kah learned of the new church
building, and one day, when the brick walls were about three feet
high, there arose a tramp of feet, beating of drums, and loud
shouts, and up marched a detachment of soldiers sent with orders
from the prefect of Bang-kah to stop the building of the chapel.
Their officers went straight to the house of the headman with his
commands. Mr. Tan was six feet two and he rose to his full height
and towered above his visitor majestically. The "mayor" of
Go-ko-khi was a Christian now, and on the wall of his house was
pasted a large sheet of paper with the ten commandments printed
on it. He pointed to this and said: "I am determined to abide by
these." The officer was taken aback. He was scarcely prepared to
defy the headman, and he went away to stir up the villagers. But
everywhere the soldiers met with opposition. There seemed no one
who would take their part. The officer knew he and his men were
scarcely within their rights in what they were doing; so, fearing
trouble, he marched back to the city, reporting there that the
black-bearded barbarian had bewitched the villagers with some
magic art.
The prefect of Bang-kah next sent a message to the British
consul. The missionary was building a fort at Go-ko-khi, he
declared in great alarm, and would probably bring guns up the
river at night. He was a very bad man indeed, and if the British
consul desired peace he should stop this wicked Kai Bok-su at
once. And the British consul down in his old Dutch fort at Tamsui
laughed heartily over the letter, knowing all about Kai Bok-su
and the sort of fort he was building.
So, in spite of all opposition, the little church rose steadily
up and up until it was crowned with a tiled roof and was ready
for the worshipers.
That was a great day for north Formosa and its young missionary,
the day the first church was opened. The place was packed to the
doors, and many stood outside listening at the windows. And of
that crowd one hundred and fifty arose and declared that from
henceforth they would cast away their idols and worship only the
one and true God. Standing up there in his first pulpit and
looking down upon the crowd of upturned faces, and seeing the new
light in them which the blessed good news of Jesus and his love
had brought, Kai Bok-su's heart swelled with joy.
He stayed with them some time after this, for, though so many
people had become Christians, they were like little children and
needed much careful teaching. Especially they must learn how to
live as Jesus Christ would have his followers live. Many heathen
as well as the Christians came to his meetings and listened
eagerly. At first the people found it almost impossible to sit
quiet and still during a service. They had never been accustomed
to such a task, and some of the missionary's experiences were
very funny. When they had sung a hymn and had settled down to
listen to the address, the preacher would no sooner start than
out would come one long pipe after another, pieces of flint would
strike on steel, and in a few minutes the smoke would begin to
ascend. Mackay would pause and gently tell them that as this was
a Christian service they must not do anything that might disturb
it. They were anxious to do just as he bade, so the pipes would
disappear, and nodding their heads politely they would say, "Oh,
yes, we must be quiet; oh, yes, indeed."
One day when the congregation was very still and their young
pastor was speaking earnest words to them, one man less attentive
than the others happened to glance out of the window. Instantly
he sprang to his feet shouting, "Buffaloes in the rice-fields!
Buffaloes in the rice-fields!" and away he went with a good
fraction of the congregation helter-skelter at his heels.
The missionary spoke again upon the necessity of quiet, and his
hearers nodded agreeably and murmured, "Yes, yes, we must be
They were very good for the next few minutes and the minister had
reached a very important point in his address, when there was a
great disturbance at the door. An old woman came hobbling up on
her small feet and poking her head in at the church door
screamed, "My pig has gone! Pig has gone!" and away went another
portion of the congregation to help find the truant porker.
But, in spite of many interruptions, the congregation at
Go-ko-khi learned much of the beautiful truth of their new
religion. Their indulgent pastor never blamed his restless
hearers, but before the church was two months old he had trained
them so well that there was not a more orderly and attentive
congregation even in his own Christian Canada than that which
gathered in the first chapel in north Formosa.
But the day came at last when he had to leave them, and the
question was who should be left over them. The answer seemed very
plain,--A Hoa. The first convert placed as pastor over the first
church! It was very fitting. Some months before, down in Tamsui,
when A Hoa had been baptized and had taken his first communion,
he had vowed to give his life more fully to his Master's service.
So here was his field of labor, and here he began his work. He
was so utterly sincere and lovable, so bright and jovial, so firm
of purpose and yet so kindly, that he was soon beloved by all the
Christians and respected by the heathen. And one of his greatest
helpers was widow Thah-so, who had been instrumental in bringing
the missionary with his glad tidings to her village.
Mackay missed A Hoa sorely at first, but he had his other
students about him, and often when bent upon a long journey would
send for his first convert, and together they would travel here
and there over the island, making new recruits everywhere for the
army of their great Captain.
The little church at Go-ko-khi was but the first of many. Like
the hepaticas that used to peep forth in the missionary's home
woods, telling that spring had arrived, here and there they came
up, showing that the long cruel winter of heathenism in north
Formosa was drawing to an end.
Away up the Tamsui river, nestled at the foot of the mountains,
stood a busy town called Sin-tiam. A young man from this place
sailed down to Tamsui on business one day and there heard the
great Kai Bok-su preach of the new Jehovah-God, he went home full
of the wonderful news, and so much did he talk about it that a
large number of people in Sin-tiam were very anxious to hear the
barbarian themselves. So one day a delegation came down the river
to the house on the bluff above Tamsui. They made this request
known to the missionary as he sat teaching his students in the
study. Would he not come and tell the people of Sin-tiam the
story about this Jesus-God who loved all men? Would he go? Kai
Bok-su was on the road almost before the slow-going Orientals had
finished delivering the message.
It was the season of a feast to their idols in Sin-tiam when the
missionary and his party arrived. Great crowds thronged the
streets, and the barbarian with his white face and his black
beard and his queer clothes attracted unusual attention. The
familiar cry, "Foreign devil," was mingled with "Kill the
barbarian," "Down with the foreigner." The crowd began to surge
closer around the missionary party, and affairs looked very
serious. Suddenly a little boy right in Mackay's path was struck
on the head by a brick intended for the missionary. He was picked
up, and Mackay, pressing through the crowd to where the little
fellow lay, took out his surgical instruments and dressed the
wound. All about him the cries of "Kill the foreign devil"
changed to cries of "Good heart! Good heart!" The crowd became
friendly at once, and Mackay passed on, having had once more a
narrow escape from death.
The work of preaching to these people was carried on vigorously,
and before many months had passed the Christians met together and
declared they must build a chapel for the worship of the true
God. So, close by the riverside, in a most picturesque spot, the
walls of the second chapel of north Formosa began to rise. It was
not without opposition of course. One rabid idol-worshiper
stopped before the half-finished building with its busy workmen,
and, picking up a large stone, declared that he would smash the
head of the black-bearded barbarian if the work was not stopped
that moment. Needless to say, the missionary, standing within a
good stone's throw of his enemy, ordered the workers to continue.
George Mackay was not to be stopped by all the stones in north
This stone was never thrown, however, and at last the chapel was
finished. Once more a preacher was ready to be its pastor. Tan
He, a young man who had been studying earnestly under his leader
for some time, was placed over this second congregation, and once
more there blossomed out a sure sign that the spring had indeed
come to north Formosa.
Tek-chham, a walled city of over forty thousand inhabitants, was
the next place to be attacked by this little army of the King's
soldiers. The first visit of the missionary caused a riot, but
before long Tek-chham had a chapel with some of the rioters for
its best members, and a once proud graduate and worshiper of
Confucius installed in it as its pastor.
Ten miles from Tek-chham stood a little village called Geh-bai.
The missionary-soldiers visited it, and to their delight found a
church building ready for them. It was quite a wonderful place,
capable of holding fully a thousand people without much crowding.
Its roof was the boughs of the great banyan tree; its one pillar
the trunk, and its walls the branches that bent down to enter the
ground and take root. It made a delightful shelter from the
broiling sun. And here Kai Bok-su preached. But a banyan does not
give perfect shelter in all kinds of weather, so when a number of
people had declared themselves followers of the Lord Jesus, a
large house was rented and fitted up as a chapel, with another
native pastor over it.
Away over at Kelung a church was founded through a man who had
carried the gospel home from one of the missionary's sermons.
Here and there the hepaticas were springing up. From all sides
came invitations to preach the great news of the true God, and
the young missionary gave himself scarcely time to eat or sleep.
be worked like a giant himself, and he inspired the same spirit
in the students that accompanied him. He was like a Napoleon
among his soldiers. Wherever he went they would go, even though
it would surely mean abuse and might mean death. And, wherever
they went, they brought such a wonderful, glad change to people's
hearts that they were like slave-liberators setting captives
The most lawless and dangerous region in all north Formosa was
that surrounding the small town of Sa-kak-eng. In the mountains
near by lived a band of robbers who kept the people in a constant
state of dread by their terrible deeds of plunder and murder.
Sometimes the frightened townspeople would help the highwaymen
just to gain their good-will, and such treatment only made them
bolder. Bands of them would even come down into the town and
march through the streets, frightening every one into flight.
They would shout and sing, and their favorite song was one that
showed how little they cared for the laws of the land.
You trust the mandarins,
We trust the mountains.
So the song went, and when the missionary heard it first he could
not help confessing that after all it was a sorry job trusting
the mandarins for protection.
The first time he visited the place with A Hoa they were stoned
and driven out. But the missionaries came back, and at last were
allowed to preach. And then converts came and a church was
established. The robber bands received no more assistance from
the people, and were soon scattered by the officers of the law.
And Sa-kak-eng was in peace because the missionary had come.
But there was one place Mackay had so far scarcely dared to
enter. Even the robber-infested Sa-kak-eng would yield, but
Bang-kah defied all efforts. To the missionary it was the
Gibraltar of heathen Formosa, and he longed to storm it. North,
south, east, and west of this great wicked city churches had been
planted, some only within a few miles of its walls. But Bang-kah
still stood frowning and unyielding. It had always been very
bitter against outsiders of all kinds. No foreign merchant was
allowed to do business in Bang-kah, so no wonder the foreign
missionary was driven out.
Mackay had dared to enter the place, being of the sort that would
dare anything. It was soon after he had settled in Formosa and A
Hoa had accompanied him. The result had been a riot. The streets
had immediately filled with a yelling, cursing mob that pelted
the two missionaries with stones and rotten eggs and filth, and
drove them from the city.
But "Mackay never knew when he was beaten," as a fellow worker of
his once said, and though he was taking desperate chances, he
went once more inside the walls of Bang-kah. This time he barely
escaped with his life, and the city authorities forbade every
one, on pain of death, to lease or sell property to him or in any
way accommodate the barbarian missionary.
But meanwhile Kai Bok-su was keeping his eye on Bang-kah, and
when the territory around had been possessed, he went up to
Go-ko-khi and made the daring proposition to A Hoa. Should they
go up again and storm the citadel of heathenism? And A Hoa
answered promptly and bravely, "Let us go."
So one day early in December, when the winter rains had commenced
to pour down, these two marched across the plain and into
Bang-kah. By keeping quiet and avoiding the main thoroughfare,
they managed to rent a house. It was a low, mean hovel in a
dirty, narrow street, but it was inside the forbidden city, and
that was something. The two daring young men then procured a
large sheet of paper, printed on it in Chinese characters "Jesus'
Temple," and pasted it on the door. This announced what they had
come for, and they awaited results.
Presently there came the heavy tramp, tramp of feet on the stone
pavement. Mackay and A Hoa looked out. A party of soldiers, armed
with spears and swords, were returning from camp. They stopped
before the hut and read the inscription. They shouted loud
threats and tramped away to report the affair to headquarters.
In a short time, with a great noise and tramping, once more
soldiers were at the door. Mackay waked out and faced them
quietly. The general had given orders that the barbarian must
leave this house immediately, the soldier declared in a loud
voice. The place belonged to the military authorities.
"Show me your proof," said Mackay calmly. His bold behavior
demanded respectful treatment, so the soldier produced the deed
for the property.
"I respect your law," said Mackay after he examined it, "and my
companion and I will vacate. But I have paid rent for this place,
therefore I am entitled to remain for the night. I will not go
out until morning."
His firm words and fearless manner had their effect both on the
soldiers and the noisy mob waiting for him outside, and the men,
muttering angrily, turned away. That night Mackay and A Hoa lay
on a dirty grass mat on the mud floor. The place was damp and
filthy, but even had it been comfortable they would have had
little sleep. For, far into the night, angry soldiers paraded the
street. Often their voices rose to a clamor and they would make a
rush for the frail door of the little hut. Many times the two
young fellows arose, believing their last hour had come. But the
long night passed and they found that they were still left
They rose early and started out. Already a great mob filled the
space in front of the house. Even the low roofs of the
surrounding houses were covered with people all out early to see
the barbarian and his despised companion driven from Bang-kah,
and perhaps have the added pleasure of witnessing their death.
The two walked bravely down the street. Curses were showered upon
them from all sides; broken tiles, stones, and filth were thrown
at them, but they moved on steadily. The mob hampered them so
that they were hours walking the short distance to the river.
Here they entered a boat and went down a few miles to a point
where a chapel stood, and where some of Mackay's students awaited
But the man who "did not know when he was beaten" had not turned
his back on the enemy. He gathered the group of students around
him in the little room attached to the chapel. Here they all
knelt and the young missionary laid their trouble before the
great Captain who had said, "All power is given unto me." "Give
us an entrance to Bang-kah," was the burden of the missionary's
prayer. They arose from their knees, and he turned to A Hoa with
that quick challenging movement his students had learned to know
so well.
"Come," he said, "we are going back to Bang-kah."
And A Hoa, whose habit it was to walk into all danger with a
smile, answered with all his heart:
"It is well, Kai Bok-su; we go back to Bang-kah."
And straight back to this Gibraltar the little army of two
marched. It was quite dark by the time they entered. A Formosan
city is not the blaze of electricity to which Westerners are
accustomed, and only here and there in the narrow streets shone a
dim light. The travelers stumbled along, scarcely knowing whither
they were going. As they turned a dark corner and plunged into
another black street they met an old man hobbling with the aid of
a staff over the uneven stones of the pavement. Mackay spoke to
him politely and asked if he could tell him of any one who would
rent a house. "We want to do mission work," he added, feeling
that he must not get anything under false pretenses.
The old man nodded. "Yes, I can rent you my place," he answered
readily. "Come with me."
Full of amazement and gratitude the two adventurers groped their
way after him, stumbling over stones and heaps of rubbish. They
could not help realizing, as they got farther into the city, that
should the old man prove false and give an alarm the whole
murderous populace of that district would be around them
instantly like a swarm of hornets. But whether he was leading
them into a trap or not their only course was to follow.
At last he paused at a low door opening into the back part of a
house. The old man lighted a lamp, a pith wick in a saucer of
peanut oil, and the visitors looked around. The room was damp and
dirty and infested with the crawling creatures that fairly swarm
in the Chinese houses of the lower order. Rain dripped from the
low ceiling on the mud floor, and the meager furniture was dirty
and sticky.
But the two young men who had found it were delighted. They felt
like the advance guard of an army that has taken the enemy's
first outpost. They were established in Bang-kah! They set to
work at once to draw out a rental paper. A Hoa sat at the table
and wrote it out so that they might be within the law which said
that no foreigner must hold property in Bang-kah. When the paper
was signed and the money paid, the old man crept stealthily away.
He had his money, but he was too wary to let his fellow citizens
find how he had earned it.
As soon as morning came the little army in the midst of the
hostile camp hoisted its banner. When the citizens of Bang-kah
awoke, they found on the door of the hut the hated sign, in large
Chinese characters, "Jesus' Temple."
In less than an hour the street in front of it was thronged with
a shouting crowd. Before the day was past the news spread, and
the whole city was in an uproar. By the next afternoon the
excitement had reached white heat, and a wild crowd of men came
roaring down the street. They hurled themselves at the little
house where the missionaries were waiting and literally tore it
to splinters. The screams of rage and triumph were so horrible
that they reminded Mackay of the savage yells of the
When the mob leaped upon the roof and tore it off, the two hunted
men slipped out through a side door, and across the street into
an inn. The crowd instantly attacked it, smashing doors, ripping
the tiles off the roof, and uttering such bloodthirsty howls that
they resembled wild beasts far more than human beings. The
landlord ordered the missionaries out to where the mob was
waiting to tear them limb from limb.
It was an awful moment. To go out was instant death, to remain
merely put off the end a few moments. Mackay, knowing his source
of help, sent up a desperate prayer to his Father in heaven.
Suddenly there was a strange lull in the street outside. The
yells ceased, the crashing of tiles stopped. The door opened, and
there in his sedan-chair of state surrounded by his bodyguard,
appeared the Chinese mandarin. And just behind him--blessed sight
to the eyes of Kai Bok-su--Mr. Scott, the British consul of
Without a word the two British-born clasped hands. It was not an
occasion for words. There was immediately a council of war. The
mandarin urged the British consul to send the missionary out of
the city.
"I have no authority to give such an order," retorted Mr. Scott
quickly. "On the other hand you must protect him while he is
here. He is a British subject."
Mackay's heart swelled with pride. And he thanked God that his
Empire had such a worthy representative.
Having again impressed upon the mandarin that the missionary must
be protected or there would be trouble, Mr. Scott set off for his
home. Mackay accompanied him to the city gate. Then he turned and
walked back through the muttering crowds straight to the inn he
had left. He stopped occasionally to pull a tooth or give
medicine for malaria, for even in Bang-kah he had a few friends.
The mandarin was now as much afraid of the missionary as if he
had been the plague. He knew he dared not allow him to be
touched, and he also knew he had very little power over a mob. He
was responsible, too, to men in higher office, for the control of
the people, and would be severely punished if there was a riot.
He was indeed in a very bad way when he heard that the
troublesome missionary had come back, and he followed him to the
inn to try to induce him to leave.
He found Mackay with A Hoa, quietly seated in their room. First
he commanded, then he tried to bribe, and then he even descended
to beg the "foreign devil" to leave the city. But Mackay was
"I cannot leave," he said, touched by the man's distress. "I
cannot quit this city until I have preached the gospel here." He
held up his forceps and his Bible. "See! I use these to relieve
pain of the body, and this gives relief from sin,--the disease of
the soul. I cannot go until I have given your people the benefit
of them."
The mandarin went away enraged and baffled. He could not persuade
the man to go; he dared not drive him out. He left a squad of
soldiers to guard the place, however, remembering the British
consul's warning.
In a few days the excitement subsided. People became accustomed
to seeing the barbarian teacher and his companion go about the
streets. Many were relieved of much pain by him too, and a large
number listened with some interest to the new doctrine he taught
concerning one God.
He had been there a week when some prominent citizens came to him
with a polite offer. They would give him free a piece of ground
outside the city on which to build a church. Kai Bok-su's
flashing black eyes at once saw the bribe. They wanted to coax
him out when they could not drive him. He refused politely but
"I own that property," he declared, pointing to the heap of ruins
into which his house had been turned, "and there I will build a
They did everything in their power to prevent him, but one day,
many months after, right on the site where they had literally
torn the roof from above him, arose a pretty little stone church,
and that was the beginning of great things in Bang-kah.
And so Gibraltar was taken,--taken by an army of two,--a Canadian
missionary and a Chinese soldier of the King, for behind them
stood all the army of the Lord of hosts, and he led them to
Away over on the east of the island ran a range of beautiful
mountains. And between these mountains and the sea stretched a
low rice plain. Here lived many Pe-po-hoan,-- "Barbarians of the
plain." Mackay had never visited this place, for the Kap-tsu-lan
plain, as it was called, was very hard to reach on account of the
mountains; but this only made the dauntless missionary all the
more anxious to visit it.
So one day he suggested to his students, as they studied in his
house on the bluff, that they make a journey to tell the people
of Kap-tsu-lan the story of Jesus. Of course, the young fellows
were delighted. To go off with Kai Bok-su was merely transferring
their school from his house to the big beautiful outdoors. For he
always taught them by the way, and besides they were all eager to
go with him and help spread the good news that had made such a
difference in their lives. So when Kai Bok-su piled his books
upon a shelf and said, "Let us go to Kap-tsu-lan," the young
fellows ran and made their preparations joyfully. A Hoa was in
Tamsui at the time, and Mackay suggested that he come too, for a
trip without A Hoa was robbed of half its enjoyment.
Mackay had just recovered from one of those violent attacks of
malaria from which he suffered so often now, and he was still
looking pale and weak. So Sun-a, a bright young student-lad, came
to the study door with the suggestion, "Let us take Lu-a for Kai
Bok-su to ride."
There was a laugh from the other students and an indulgent smile
from Kai Bok-su himself. Lu-a was a small, rather stubbornlooking
donkey with meek eyes and a little rat tail. He was a
present to the missionary from the English commissioner of
customs at Tamsui, when that gentleman was leaving the island.
Donkeys were commonly used on the mainland of China, and though
an animal was scarcely ever ridden in Formosa, horses being
almost unknown, the commissioner did not see why his Canadian
friend, who was an introducer of so many new things, should not
introduce donkey-riding. So he sent him Lu-a as a farewell
present and leaving this token of his good-will departed for
Up to this time Lu-a had served only as a pet and a joke among
the students, and high times they had with him in the grassy
field behind the missionary's house when lessons were over. In
great glee they brought him round to the door now, "all saddled
and bridled" and ready for the trip. The missionary mounted, and
Lu-a trotted meekly along the road that wound down the bluff
toward Kelung. The students followed in high spirits. The sight
of their teacher astride the donkey was such a novel one to them,
and Lu-a was such a joke at any time, that they were filled with
merriment. All went well until they left the road and turned into
a path that led across the buffalo common. At the end of it they
came to a ravine about fifteen feet deep. Over this stretched. a
plank bridge not more than three feet wide. Here Lu-a came to a
sudden stop. He had no mind to risk his small but precious body
on that shaky structure. His rider bade him "go on," but the
command only made Lu-a put back his ears, plant his fore feet
well forward and stand stock still. In fact he looked much more
settled and immovable than the bridge over which he was being
urged. The students gathered round him and petted and coaxed.
They called him "Good Lu-a" and "Honorable Lu-a" and every other
flattering title calculated to move his donkeyship, but Lu-a
flattened his ears back so he could not hear and would not move.
So Mackay dismounted and tried the plan of pulling him forward by
the bridle while some of the boys pushed him from behind. Lu-a
resented this treatment, especially that from the rear, and up
went his heels, scattering students in every direction; and to
discomfit the enemy in front he opened his mouth and gave forth
such loud resonant brays that the ravine fairly rang with his
A balking donkey is rather amusing to boys of any country, but to
these Formosan lads who had had no experience with one the sound
of Lu-a's harsh voice and the sight of his flying heels brought
convulsions of merriment. "He's pounding rice! He's pounding
rice!" shouted the wag of the party, and his companions flung
themselves upon the grass and rolled about laughing themselves
With his followers rendered helpless and his steed continuing
stubborn, Mackay saw the struggle was useless. He could not
compete alone with Lu-a's firmness, so he gave orders that the
obstinate little obstructer of their journey be trotted back to
his pasture.
"And to think that any one of us might have carried the little
rascal over!" he cried as he watched the donkey meekly depart.
His students looked at the little beast with something like
respect. Lu-a had beaten the dauntless Kai Bok-su who had never
before been beaten by anything. He was indeed a marvelous donkey!
So the journey to the Kap-tsu-lan plain was made on foot. It was
a very wearisome one and often dangerous. The mountain paths were
steep and difficult and the travelers knew that often the
head-hunters lurked near. But the way was wonderfully beautiful
nevertheless. Standing on a mountain height one morning and
looking away down over wooded hills and valleys and the lake-like
terraces of the rice-fields, Mackay repeated to his students a
line of the old hymn:
Every prospect pleases and only man is vile.
Around them the stately tree-fern lifted its lovely fronds and
the orchids dotted the green earth like a flock of gorgeous
butterflies just settled. Tropical birds of brilliant plumage
flashed among the trees. Beside them a great tree raised itself,
fairly covered with morning-glories, and over at their right a
mountainside gleamed like snow in the sunlight, clothed from top
to bottom with white lilies.
But the way had its dangers as well as its beauties. They were
passing the mouth of a ravine when they were stopped by yells and
screams of terror coming from farther up the mountainside. In a
few minutes a Chinaman darted out of the woods toward them. His
face was distorted with terror and he could scarcely get breath
to tell his horrible story. He and his four companions had been
chipping the camphor trees up in the woods; suddenly the armed
savages had leaped out upon them and he alone of the five had
At last they left the dangerous mountain and came down into the
Kap-tsu-lan plain. On every side was rice-field after rice-field,
with the water pouring from one terrace to another. The plain was
low and damp and the paths and roads lay deep in mud. They had a
long toilsome walk between the rice-fields until they came to the
first village of these barbarians of the plain. It was very much
like a Chinese village,--dirty, noisy, and swarming with
wild-looking children and wolfish dogs.
The visitors were received with the utmost disdain. The Chinese
students were of course well known, for these aborigines had long
ago adopted their customs and language. But the Chinese visitors
were in company with the foreigners, and all foreigners were
outcaste in this eastern plain. The men shouted the familiar
"foreign devil" and walked contemptuously away. The dirty women
and children fled into their grass huts and set the dogs upon the
strangers. They tried by all sorts of kindnesses to gain a
hearing, but all to no effect. So they gave it up, and plodded
through the mud and water a mile farther on to the next village.
But village number two received them in exactly the same way.
Only rough words and the barks of cruel dogs met them. The next
village was no better, the fourth a little worse. And so on they
went up and down the Kap-tsu-lan plain, sleeping at night in some
poor empty hut or in the shadow of a rice strawstack, eating
their meals of cold rice and buffalo-meat by the wayside, and
being driven from village to village, and receiving never a word
of welcome.
And all through those wearisome days the young men looked at
their leader in vain for any smallest sign of discouragement or
inclination to retreat. There was no slightest look of dismay on
the face of Kai Bok-su, for how was it possible for a man who did
not know when he was beaten to feel discouraged? So still
undaunted in the face of defeat, he led them here and there over
the plain, hoping that some one would surely relent and give them
a hearing.
One night, footsore and worn out, they slept on the damp mud
floor of a miserable hut where the rain dripped in upon their
faces. In the morning prospects looked rather discouraging to the
younger members of the party. They were wet and cold and weary,
and there seemed no use in going again and again to a village
only to be turned away. But Kai Bok-su's mouth was as firm as
ever, and his dark eyes flashed resolutely, as once more he gave
the order to march. It was a lovely morning, the sun was rising
gloriously out of the sea and the heavy mists were melting from
above the little rice-fields. Here and there fairy lakes gleamed
out from the rosy haze that rolled back toward the mountains.
They walked along the shore in the pink dawn-light and marched up
toward a fishing village. They had visited it before and had been
driven away, but Kai Bok-su was determined to try again. They
were surprised as they came nearer to see three men come out to
meet them with a friendly expression on their faces.
The foremost was an old man who had been nicknamed "Black-face,"
because of his dark skin. The second was a middle-aged man, and
the third was a young fellow about the age of the students. They
saluted the travelers pleasantly, and the old man addressed the
"You have been going through and through our plain and no one has
received you," he said politely. "Come to our village, and we
will now be ready to listen to you."
The door of Kap-tsu-lan had opened at last! The missionary's eyes
gleamed with joy and gratitude as he accepted the invitation. The
delegation led the visitors straight to the house of the headman.
For the Pe-po-hoan governed their communities in the Chinese
style and had a headman for each village. The missionary party
sat down in front of the hut on some large flat stones and talked
over the matter with the chief and other important men. And while
they talked "Black-face" slipped away. He returned in a few
moments with a breakfast of rice and fish for the visitors.
The result of the conference was that the villagers decided to
give the barbarian a chance. All he wanted it seemed was to tell
of this new Jehovah-religion which he believed, and surely there
could be no great harm in listening to him talk.
In the evening the headman with the help of some friends set to
work to construct a meeting-house. A tent was erected, made from
boat sails. Several flat stones laid at one end and a plank
placed upon them made a pulpit. And that was the first church on
the Kap-tsu-lan plain! There was a "church bell" too, to call the
people to worship. In the village were some huge marine shells
with the ends broken off. In the old days these were used by the
chiefs as trumpets by which they called their men together
whenever they were starting out on the war-path. But now the
trumpet-shell was used to call the people to follow the King.
Just at dark a man took one, and walking up and down the
straggling village street blew loudly-- the first "church bell"
in east Formosa.
The loud roar brought the villagers flocking down to the
tent-church by the shore. For the most part they brought their
pews with them. They came hurrying out of their huts carrying
benches, and arranging them in rows they seated themselves to
Mackay and the students sang and the people listened eagerly. The
Pe-po-hoan by nature were more musical than the Chinese, and the
singing delighted them. Then the missionary arose and addressed
them. He told clearly and simply why he had come and preached to
them of the true God. Afterward the congregation was allowed to
ask questions, and they learned much of this God and of his love
in his Son Jesus Christ.
The wonder of the great news shone in the eyes upturned to the
preacher. In the gloom of the half-lighted tent their dark faces
took on a new expression of half-wondering hope. Could it be
possible that this was true? Their poor, benighted minds had
always been held in terror of their gods and of the evil spirits
that forever haunted their footsteps. Could it be possible that
God was a great Father who loved his children? They asked so many
eager questions, and the story of Jesus Christ had to be told
over and over so many times, that before this first church
service ended a gray gleam of dawn was spreading out over the
It was only the next day that these newly awakened people decided
that they must have a church building. And they went to work to
get one in a way that might have shamed a congregation of people
in a Christian land. This new wonderful hope that had been raised
in their hearts by the knowledge that God loved them set them to
work with glad energy. Kai Bok-su and his men still preached and
prayed and sang and taught in the crazy old wind-flapped tent by
the seashore, and the people listened eagerly, and then, when
services were over, every one,--preacher, assistants, and
congregation,--set bravely to work to build a church. Brave they
certainly had to be, for at the very beginning they had to risk
their lives for their chapel. A party sailed down the coast and
entered savage territory for the poles to construct the building.
They were attacked and one or two were badly wounded, though they
managed to escape. But they were quite ready to go back and fight
again had it been necessary. Then they made the bricks for the
walls. Rice chaff mixed with clay were the materials, and the
Kap-tsu-lan plain had an abundance of both. The roof was made of
grass, the floor of hard dried earth, and a platform of the same
at one end served as a pulpit.
When the little chapel was finished, every evening the big shell
rang out its summons through the village; and out from every
house came the people and swarmed into the chapel to hear Kai
Bok-su explain more of the wonders of God and his Son Jesus
Mackay's home during this period was a musty little room in a
damp mud-walled hut; and here every day he received donations of
idols, ancestral tablets, and all sorts of things belonging to
idol-worship. He was requested to burn them, and often in the
mornings he dried his damp clothes and moldy boots at a fire made
from heathen idols.
For eight weeks the missionary party remained in this place,
preaching, teaching, and working among the people. It was a
mystery to the students how their teacher found time for the
great amount of Bible study and prayer which he managed to get.
He surely worked as never man worked before. Late at night, long
after every one else was in bed, he would be bending over his
Bible, beside his peanut-oil lamp, and early in the morning
before the stars had disappeared he was up and at work again.
Four hours' sleep was all his restless, active mind could endure,
and with that he could do work that would have killed any
ordinary man.
One evening some new faces looked up at him from his congregation
in the little brick church. When the last hymn was sung the
missionary stepped down from his pulpit and spoke to the
strangers. They explained that they were from the next village.
They had heard rumors of this new doctrine, and had been sent to
find out more about it. They had been charmed with the singing,
for that evening over two hundred voices had joined in a ringing
praise to the new Jehovah-God. They wanted to hear more, they
said, and they wanted to know what it was all about. Would Kai
Bok-su and his students deign to visit their village too?
Would he? Why that was just what he was longing to do. He had
been driven out of that village by dogs only a few weeks before,
but a little thing like that did not matter to a man like Mackay.
This village lay but a short distance away, being connected with
their own by a path winding here and there between the
rice-fields. Early the next evening Mackay formed a procession.
He placed himself at its head, with A Hoa at his side. The
students came next, and then the converts in a double row. And
thus they marched slowly along the pathway singing as they went.
It was a stirring sight. On either side the waving fields of
rice, behind them the gleam of the blue ocean, before them the
great towering mountains clothed in green. Above them shone the
clear dazzling sky of a tropical evening. And on wound the long
procession of Christians in a heathen land, and from them arose
the glorious words:
O thou, my soul, bless God the Lord,
And all that in me is
Be stirred up his holy name
To magnify and bless.
And the heathen in the rice-fields stopped to gaze at the strange
sight, and the mountains gave back the echo of that Name which is
above every name.
And so, marching to their song, the procession came to the
village. Everybody in the place had come out to meet them at the
first sound of the singing. And now they stood staring, the men
in a group by themselves, the women and children in the
background, the dogs snarling on the outskirts of the crowd.
The congregation was there ready, and without waiting to find a
place of meeting, right out under the clear evening skies, the
young missionary told once more the great story of God and his
love as shown through Jesus Christ. The message took the village
by storm. It was like water to thirsty souls. The next day five
hundred of them brought their idols to the missionary to be
And now Mackay went up and down the Kap-tsu-lan plain from
village to village as he had done before, but this time it was a
triumphal march. And everywhere he went throngs threw away their
idols and declared themselves followers of the true God.
He was overcome with joy. It was so glorious he wished he could
stay there the rest of his life and lead these willing people to
a higher life. But Tamsui was waiting; Sin-tiam, Bang-kah,
Kelung, Go-ko-khi, they must all be visited; and finally he tore
himself away, leaving some of his students to care for these
people of Kap-tsu-lan.
But he came back many times, until at last nineteen chapels
dotted the plain, and in them nineteen native preachers told the
story of Jesus and his love. Sometimes, in later years, when
Mackay was with them, tears would roll down the people's faces as
they recalled how badly they had used him on his first visit.
It was while on his third visit here that he had a narrow escape
from the head-hunters. He was staying at a village called "South
Wind Harbor," which was near the border of savage territory.
Mackay often walked on the shore in the evening just before the
meeting, always with a book in his hand. One night he was
strolling along in deep meditation when he noticed some extremely
large turtle tracks in the sand. He followed them, for he liked
to watch the big clumsy creatures. These green turtles were from
four to five feet in length. They would come waddling up from the
sea, scratch a hole in the sand with their flippers, lay their
eggs, cover them carefully, and with head erect and neck
out-thrust waddle back. Mackay was intensely interested in all
the animal life of the island and made a study of it whenever he
had a chance. He knew the savages killed and ate these turtles,
but he supposed he was as yet too near the village to be molested
by them. So he followed the tracks and was nearing the edge of
the forest, when he heard a shout behind him. As he turned, one
of his village friends came running out of his hut waving to him
frantically to come back. Thinking some one must be ill, Mackay
hurried toward the man, to find that it was he himself who was in
danger. The man explained breathlessly that it was the habit of
the wily savages to make marks in the sand resembling turtle
tracks to lure people into the forest. If Kai Bok-su had entered
the woods, his head would certainly have been lost.
It was always hard to say farewell to Kap-tsu-lan, the people
were so warm-hearted, so kind, and so anxious for him to stay.
One morning just before leaving after his third visit, Mackay had
an experience that brought him the greatest joy.
He had stayed all night at the little fishing village where the
first chapel had been built. As usual he was up with the dawn,
and after his breakfast of cold boiled rice and pork he walked
down to the shore for a farewell look at the village. As he
passed along the little crooked street he could see old women
sitting on the mud floors of their huts, by the open door,
weaving. They were all poor, wrinkled, toothless old folk with
faces seamed by years of hard heathen experience. But in their
eyes shone a new light, the reflection of the glory that they had
seen when the missionary showed them Jesus their Savior. And as
they threw their thread their quavering voices crooned the sweet
There is a happy land
Far, far away.
And their old weary faces were lighted up with a hope and
happiness that had never been there in youth.
Kai Bok-su smiled as he passed their doors and his eyes were
misty with tender tears.
Just before him, playing on the sand with "jacks" or tops, just
as he had played not so very long ago away back in Canada, were
the village boys. And as they played they too were singing, their
little piping voices, sweet as birds, thrilling the morning air.
And the words they sang were:
Jesus loves me, this I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
They nodded and smiled to Kai Bok-su as he passed. He went down
to the shore where the wide Pacific flung long rollers away up
the hard-packed sand. The fishermen were going out to sea in the
rosy morning light, and as they stood up in their fishing-smacks,
and swept their long oars through the surf, they kept time to the
motion with singing. And their strong, brave voices rang out
above the roar of the breakers:
I'm not ashamed to own my Lord,
Or to defend his cause.
And standing there on the sunlit shore the young missionary
raised his face to the gleaming blue heavens with an emotion of
unutterable joy and thanksgiving. And in that moment he knew what
was that glory for which he had so vaguely longed in childish
years. It was the glory of work accomplished for his Master's
sake, and he was realizing it to the full.
Some of Mackay's happiest days were spent with his students. He
was such a wonder of a man for work himself that he inspired
every one else to do his best, so the young men made rapid
strides with their lessons. No matter how busy he was, and he was
surely one of the busiest men that ever lived, he somehow found
time for them.
Sometimes in his house, sometimes on the road, by the seashore,
under a banyan tree, here and there and everywhere, the
missionary and his pupils held their classes. If he went on a
journey, they accompanied him and studied by the way. And it was
a familiar sight on north Formosan roads or field paths to see
Mackay, always with his book in one hand and his big ebony stick
under his arm, walking along surrounded by a group of young men.
Sometimes there were as many as twenty in the student-band, but
somewhere in the country a new church would open, and the
brightest of the class would be called away to be its minister.
But just as often a young Christian would come to the missionary
and ask if he too might not be trained to preach the gospel of
Jesus Christ.
Whether at home or abroad, pupils and teacher had to resort to
all sorts of means to get away for an uninterrupted hour
together. For Kai Bok-su was always in demand to visit the sick
or sad or troubled.
There was a little kitchen separate from the house on the bluff,
and over this Mackay with his students built a second story. And
here they would often slip away for a little quiet time together.
One night, about eleven o'clock, Mackay was here alone poring
over his books. The young men had gone home to bed except two or
three who were in the kitchen below. Some papers had been dropped
over a pipe-hole in the floor of the room where Mackay was
studying, and for some time he had been disturbed by a rustling
among them. At last without looking up, he called to his boys
below: "I think there are rats up here among my papers!"
Koa Kau, one of the younger of the students, ran lightly up the
stairs to give battle to the intruders. What was his horror when
he saw fully three feet of a monster serpent sticking up through
the pipe-hole and waving its horrible head in the air just a
little distance from Kai Bok-su's chair.
The boy gave a shout, darted down the stair, and with a sharp
stick, pinned the body of the snake to the wall below. The
creature became terribly violent, but Koa Kau held on valiantly
and Mackay seized an old Chinese spear that happened to be in the
room above and pierced the serpent through the head. They pulled
its dead body down into the kitchen below and spread it out. It
measured nine feet. The students would not rest until it was
buried, and the remembrance of the horrible creature's visit for
some time spoiled the charm of the little upper room.
The rocks at Kelung harbor were another favorite spot for this
little traveling university to hold its classes. Sometimes they
would take their dinner and row out in a little sampan to the
rocks outside the harbor and there, undisturbed, they would study
the whole day long.
They always began the day's work with a prayer and a hymn of
praise, and no matter what subjects they might study, most of the
time was spent on the greatest of books. After a hard morning's
work each one would gather sticks, make a fire, and they would
have their dinner of vegetables, rice, and pork or buffalo-meat.
Then there were oysters, taken fresh off the rocks, to add to
their bill of fare.
At five in the afternoon, when the strain of study was beginning
to tell, they would vary the program. One or two of the boys
would take a plunge into the sea and bring up a subject for
study,--a shell, some living coral, sea-weed, sea-urchins, or
some such treasure. They would examine it, and Kai Bok-su, always
delighted when on a scientific subject, would give them a lesson
in natural history. And he saw with joy how the wonders of the
sea and land opened these young men's minds to understand what a
great and wonderful God was theirs, who had made "the heaven and
the earth and the sea, and all that in them is."
When they visited a chapel in the country, they had a daily
program which they tried hard to follow. They studied until four
o'clock every afternoon and all were trained in speaking and
preaching. After four they made visits together to Christians or
heathen, speaking always a word for their Master. Every evening a
public service was held at which Mackay preached. These sermons
were an important part of the young men's training, for he always
treated the gospel in a new way. A Hoa, who was Mackay's
companion for the greater part of sixteen years, stated that he
had never heard Kai Bok-su preach the same sermon twice.
On the whole the students liked their college best when it was
moving. For on the road, while their principal gave much time to
the Bible and how to present the gospel, he would enliven their
walks by conversing about everything by the way and making it
full of interest. The structure of a wayside flower, the
geological formation of an overhanging rock, the composition of
the soil of the tea plantations, the stars that shone in the sky
when night came down upon them;--all these made the traveling
college a delight.
Although his days were crammed with work, Mackay found time to
make friends among the European population of the island. They
all liked and admired him, and many of them tried to help the man
who was giving his life and strength so completely to others.
They were familiar with his quick, alert figure passing through
the streets of Tamsui, with his inevitable book and his big ebony
cane. And they would smile and say, "There goes Mackay; he's the
busiest man in China."*
* See Chapter XIII. Formosa becomes Japanese territory.
The British consul in the old Dutch fort and the English
commissioner of customs proved true and loyal friends. The
representatives of foreign business firms, too, were always ready
to lend him a helping hand where possible. His most useful
friends were the foreign medical men. They helped him very much.
They not only did all they could for his own recovery when
malaria attacked him, but they helped also to cure his patients.
Traveling scientists always gave him a visit to get his help and
advice. He had friends that were ship-captains, officers,
engineers, merchants, and British consuls. Everybody knew the
wonderful Kai Bok-su. "Whirlwind Mackay," some of them called
him, and they knew and admired him with the true admiration that
only a brave man can inspire.
The friends to whom he turned for help of the best kind were the
English Presbyterians in south Formosa. They, more than any
others, knew his trials and difficulties. They alone could enter
with true sympathy into all his triumphs. At one time Dr.
Campbell, one of the south Formosan missionaries, paid him a
visit. He proved a delightful companion, and together the two
made a tour of the mission stations. Dr. Campbell preached
wherever they went and was a great inspiration to the people, as
well as to the students and to the missionary himself.
One evening, when they were in Kelung, Mackay, with his
insatiable desire to use every moment, suggested that they spend
ten days without speaking English, so that they might improve
their Chinese. Dr. Campbell agreed, and they started their
"Chinese only." Next morning from the first early call of "Liong
tsong khi lai," "All, all, up come," not one word of their native
tongue did they speak. They had a long tramp that morning and
there was much to talk about and the conversation was all in
Chinese, according to the bargain. Dr. Campbell was ahead, and
after an hour's talk he suddenly turned upon his companion:
"Mackay!" he exclaimed, "this jabbering in Chinese is ridiculous,
and two Scotchmen should have more sense; let us return to our
mother tongue." Which advice Mackay gladly followed.
His next visitor was the Rev. Mr. Ritchie from south Formosa, one
of the friends who had first introduced him to his work. Every
day of his visit was a joy. With nine of Mackay's students, the
two missionaries set out on a trip through the north Formosa
mission that lasted many weeks.
But the more pleasant and helpful such companionship was the more
alone Mackay felt when it was over. His task was becoming too
much for one man. He was wanted on the northern coast, at the
southern boundary of his mission field, and away on the
Kap-tsu-lan plain all at once. He was crowded day and night with
work. What with preaching, dentistry, attending the sick,
training his students, and encouraging the new churches, he had
enough on his hands for a dozen missionaries.
But now at last the Church at home, in far-away Canada, bestirred
herself to help him. They had been hearing something of the
wonderful mission in Formosa, but they had heard only hints of
it, for Mackay would not confess how he was toiling day and night
and how the work had grown until he was not able to overtake it
alone. But the Church understood something of his need, and they
now sent him the best present they could possibly give,--an
assistant. Just three years after Mackay had landed in Formosa,
the Rev. J. B. Fraser, M. D., and his wife and little ones
arrived. He was a young man, too, vigorous and ready for work.
Besides being an ordained minister, he was a physician as well,
just exactly what the north Formosan mission needed.
Along with the missionary, the Church had sent funds for a house
for him and also one for Mackay. So the poor old Chinese house on
the bluff was replaced by a modern, comfortable dwelling, and by
its side another was built for the new missionary and his family.
One room of Mackay's house was used as a study for his students.
After the houses were built and the new doctor was able to use
the language, he began to fill a long-felt want. Mackay had
always done a little medical work, and the foreign doctor of
Tamsui had been most kind in giving his aid, but a doctor of his
own, a missionary doctor, was exactly what Kai Bok-su wanted.
Soon the sick began to hear of the wonders the missionary doctor
could perform, and they flocked to him to be cured.
It must not be supposed that there were not already doctors in
north Formosa. There were many in Tamsui alone, and very
indignant they were at this new barbarian's success. But the
native doctors were about the worst trouble that the people had
to bear. Their medical knowledge, like their religion, was a
mixture of ignorance and superstition, and some of their
practises would have been inexcusable except for the fact that
they themselves knew no better. There were two classes of medical
men; those who treated internal diseases and those who professed
to cure external maladies. It was hard to judge which class did
the more mischief, but perhaps the "inside doctors" killed more
of their patients. Dog's flesh was prescribed as a cure for
dyspepsia, a chip taken from a coffin and boiled and the water
drunk was a remedy for catarrh, and an apology made to the moon
was a specific for wind-roughened skin. For the dreaded malaria,
the scourge of Formosa, the young Canadian doctor found many and
amazing remedies prescribed, some worse than the disease itself.
The native doctors believed malaria to be caused by two devils in
a patient, one causing the chills, the other the fever. One of
the commonest remedies, and one that was quite as sensible as any
of the rest, was to tie seven hairs plucked from a black dog
around the sick one's wrist.
But when the barbarian doctor opened his dispensary in Tamsui, a
new era dawned for the poor sick folk of north Formosa. The work
went on wonderfully well and Mackay found so much more time to
travel in the country that the gospel spread rapidly.
But just when prospects were looking so fair and every one was
happy and hopeful, a sad event darkened the bright outlook of the
two missionaries. The young doctor had cured scores of cases, and
had brought health and happiness to many homes, but he was
powerless to keep death from his own door.
And one day, a sad day for the mission of north Formosa, the
mother was called from husband and little ones to her home and
her reward in heaven.
So the home on the bluff, the beautiful Christian home, which was
a pattern for all the Chinese, was broken up. The young doctor
was compelled to leave his patients, and taking his motherless
children he returned with them to Canada.
The church at home sent out another helper. The Rev. Kenneth
Junor arrived one year later, and once more the work received a
fresh impetus. And then, just about two years after Mr. Junor's
arrival, Kai Bok-su found an assistant of his own right in
Formosa, and one who was destined to become a wonderful help to
him. And so one bright day, there was a wedding in the chapel of
the old Dutch fort, where the British consul married George
Leslie Mackay to a Formosan lady. Tui Chhang Mai, her name had
been. She was of a beautiful Christian character and for a long
time she had been a great help in the church. But as Mrs. Mackay
she proved a marvelous assistance to her husband.
It had long been a great grief to the missionary that, while the
men would come in crowds to his meetings, the poor women had to
be left at home. Sometimes in a congregation of two hundred there
would be only two or three women. Chinese custom made it
impossible for a man missionary to preach to the women. Only a
few of the older ones came out. So the mothers of the little
children did not hear about Jesus and so could not teach their
little ones about him.
But now everything was changed for them. They had a
lady-missionary, and one of their own people too. The Mackays
went on a wedding-trip through the country. Kai Bok-su walked, as
usual, and his wife rode in a sedan-chair. The wedding-trip was
really a missionary tour; for they visited all the chapels, and
the women came to the meetings in crowds, because they wanted to
hear and see the lady who had married Kai Bok-su. Often, after
the regular meetings when the men had gone away, the women would
crowd in and gather round Mrs. Mackay and she would tell them the
story of Jesus and his love.
It was a wonderful wedding-journey and it brought a double
blessing wherever the two went. Their experiences were not all
pleasant. One day they traveled over a sand plain so hot that
Mackay's feet were blistered. Another time they were drenched
with rain. One afternoon there came up a terrific wind storm. It
blew Mrs. Mackay's sedan-chair over and sent her and the carriers
flying into the mud by the roadside. At another place they all
barely escaped drowning when crossing a stream. But the brave
young pair went through it all dauntlessly. The wife had caught
something of her husband's great spirit of sacrifice, and he was
always the man on fire, utterly forgetful of self.
For two years they worked happily together and at last a great
day came to Kai-Bok-su. He had been nearly eight years in
Formosa. It was time he came home, the Church in Canada said, for
a little rest and to tell the people at home something of his
great work.
And so he and his Formosan wife said good-by, amid tears and
regrets on all sides, and leaving Mr. Junor in charge with A Hoa
to help, they set sail for Canada. It was just a little over
seven years since he had settled in that little hut by the river,
despised and hated by every one about him; and now he left behind
him twenty chapels, each with a native preacher over it, and
hundreds of warm friends scattered over all north Formosa.
He was not quite the same Mackay who had stood on the deck of the
America seven years before. His eyes were as bright and daring as
ever and his alert figure as full of energy, but his face showed
that his life had been a hard one. And no wonder, for he had
endured every kind of hardship and privation in those seven
years. He had been mobbed times without number. He had faced
death often, and day and night since his first year on the island
his footsteps had been dogged by the torturing malaria.
But he was still the great, brave Mackay and his home-coming was
like the return of a hero from battle. He went through Canada
preaching in the churches, and his words were like a call to
arms. He swept over the country like one of his own Formosan
winds, carrying all before him. Wherever he preached hearts were
touched by his thrilling tales, and purses opened to help in his
work. Queen's University made him a Doctor of Divinity; Mrs.
Mackay, a lady of Detroit, gave him money enough to build a
hospital; and his home county, Oxford, presented him with $6,215
with which to build a college.
He visited his old home and had many long talks of his childhood
days with his loved ones. And he was reminded of the big stone in
the pasture-field which he was so determined to break. And he
thanked his heavenly Father for allowing him to break the great
rock of heathenism in north Formosa.
He returned to his mission work more on fire than ever. If he had
been received with acclaim in his native land, his Formosan
friends' welcome was not less warm. Crowds of converts, all his
students who were not too far inland, and among them, Mr. Junor,
his face all smiles, were thronging the dock, many of them
weeping for joy. It was as if a long-absent father had come back
to his children.
The work went forward now by leaps and bounds. Mackay's first
thought, after a hurried visit to the chapels and their
congregations, was to see that the hospital and college were
All day long the sound of the builders could be heard up on the
bluff near the missionaries' houses, and in a wonderfully short
time there arose two beautiful, stately buildings. Mackay
hospital they called one, not for Kai Bok-su--he did not like
things named for him--but in memory of the husband of the kind
lady who had furnished the money for it. The school for training
young men in the ministry was called Oxford College, in honor of
the county whose people had made it possible.
Oxford College stood just overlooking the Tamsui river, two
hundred feet above its waters. The building was 116 feet long and
67 feet wide, and was built of small red bricks brought from
across the Formosa Channel. A wide, airy hall ran down the middle
of the building, and was used as a lecture-room. On either side
were rooms capable of accommodating fifty students and apartments
for two teachers and their families. There were, besides, two
smaller lecture-rooms, a museum filled with treasures collected
from all over Formosa by Dr. Mackay and his students, a library,
a bathroom, and a kitchen.
The grounds about the college and hospital were very beautiful.
Nature had given one of the finest situations to be found about
Tamsui, and Kai Bok-su did the rest. The climate helped him, for
it was no great task to have a luxurious garden in north Formosa.
So, in a few years there were magnificent trees and hedges, and
always glorious flower beds abloom all the time around the
missionary premises.
But all this was not accomplished without great toil, and Kai
Bok-su appeared never to rest in those building days. It seemed
impossible that one man should work so hard, he was in Tamsui
superintending the hospital building to-day, and away off miles
in the country preaching to-morrow. He never seemed to get time
to eat, and he certainly slept less than his allotted four hours.
A great disappointment was pending, however, and one he saw
coming nearer every day. The trying Formosan climate was proving
too much for his young assistant, and one sad day he stood on the
dock and saw Mr. Junor, pale and weak and broken in health, sail
away back to Canada.
But there was always a brave soldier waiting to step into the
breach, and the next year Kai Bok-su had the joy of welcoming two
new helpers, when the Rev. Mr. Jamieson and his wife came out
from Canada and settled in the empty house on the bluff. Yes, and
in time there came to his own house other helpers--very little
and helpless at first they were--but they soon made the house
ring with happy noise and filled the hearts of their parents with
There were two ladies now to lead in the work for girls and
women. Their sisters in Canada came to their help too. The young
men had a school in Formosa, and why should there not be a school
for women and girls? they asked. And so the Women's Foreign
Missionary Society of Canada sent to Dr. Mackay money to build
one. It took only two months to erect it. It stood just a few
rods from Oxford College, and was a fine, airy building. Here a
native preacher and his wife took up their abode and with the
help of Mrs. Mackay and two other native Christian women they
strove to teach the girls of north Formosa how to make beautiful
Christian homes.
And now to the two missionaries every prospect seemed bright. The
college, the girls' school, the hospital, were all in splendid
working order. Mr. and Mrs. Jamieson were giving their best
assistance. A Hoa and the other native pastors were working
faithfully. God's blessing seemed to be showering down upon the
work and on every side were signs of growth. And then, right from
this shining sky, there fell a storm of such fierceness that it
threatened to wipe out completely the whole north Formosan
An enemy's battle-ships off the coast of Formosa! During all the
spring rumors of trouble had been coming across the channel from
the mainland. France* and China had been quarreling over a
boundary-line in Tongking. The affair had been settled but not in
a way that pleased France. So, without even waiting to declare
war, she sent a fleet to the China Sea and bombarded some of her
enemy's ports. Formosa, of course, came in for her share of the
trouble, and it was early in the summer that the French
battle-ships appeared. They hove in sight, sailing down the
Formosa Channel or Strait one hot day, and instantly all Formosa
was in an uproar of alarm and rage. The rage was greater than the
alarm, for China cordially despised all peoples beyond her own
border, and felt that the barbarians would probably be too feeble
to do them any harm. But that the barbarians should dare to
approach their coast with a war-vessel! That was a terrible
insult, and the fierce indignation of the people knew no bounds.
Their rage broke out against all foreigners. They did not
distinguish between the missionary from British soil and the
French soldiers on their enemy's vessels. They were all
barbarians alike, the Chinese declared, and as such were the
deadly foe of China. This Kai Bok-su was in league with the
French, and the native Christians all over Formosa were in league
with him, and all deserved death!
*War in 1844.
So hard days came for the Christians of north Formosa. Wherever
there was a house containing converts, there was riot and
disorder. For bands of enraged heathen, armed with knives and
swords, would parade the streets about them and threaten all with
a violent death the moment the French fired a shot.
In some places near the coast the Christian people dared not
leave their houses, and whenever they sent out their children to
buy food, often a heathen neighbor would catch them, brandish
knives over the terrified little ones' heads and declare they
would all be cut to pieces when the barbarian ships came into
Every hour of the day and often in the night, letters came from
all parts of the country to Dr. Mackay. They were brought by
runners who came at great peril of their lives, and were sent by
the poor Christians. Each letter told the same tale; the lives
and property of all the converts were in grave danger if the
enemy did not leave. And they all asked Kai Bok-su to do
something to help them.
Now Kai Bok-su was a man with great power and influence both in
Formosa and in his far-off Canada, but he had no means of
bringing that power to bear on the French. And indeed his own
life was in as great danger as any one's.
He wrote to the Christians comforting them and enthusing them
with his own spirit. He bade them all be brave, and no matter
what came, danger or torture or death itself, they must be true
to Jesus Christ. He went about his work in the college or
hospital just as usual, though he knew that any day the angry mob
from the town below might come raging up to destroy and kill.
The French had entered Kelung harbor and the danger was growing
more serious every day when Mackay found it necessary to go to
Palm Island, a pretty islet in the mouth of the Kelung river. It
was almost courting death to go, but he had been sent for, and he
went. He found the place right under the French guns and in the
midst of raging Chinese. Some of the faithful students were
there, and they were overcome with joy and hope at the sight of
him. He gathered them about him in a mission house for prayer and
a word of encouragement. Outside the Chinese soldiers paraded up
and down. Sometimes indeed they would burst into the room and
threaten the inmates with violence should the French fire. Kai
Bok-su went on quietly talking to his students. He urged them to
be faithful and reminded them of what their Master suffered at
the hands of a mob for their sake. But, in spite of their brave
spirits, the little company could not help listening for the boom
of the French guns. It was fully expected that the enemy would
soon fire, and when they did, the Christians well knew there
would be little chance for them to escape.
But God had prepared a way out of the difficulty. The meeting was
scarcely over when a messenger came in, asking for the
missionary. A Christian on the mainland was very ill and wanted
Kai Bok-su to visit him. Mackay with his students left the island
at once and went to the home of the sick man.
They had been gone but a short time when the thunder of the
French cannon broke over the harbor. The guns from the Chinese
fort answered, and had the missionary been on Palm Island he and
his converts would surely have been killed.
The Chinese were no match for the French gunners. The bombardment
destroyed the fort and killed every soldier who did not manage to
get away. A great shell crashed into the magazine of the fort,
and the explosion hurled masses of the concrete walls an
incredible distance. The city about the fort was completely
deserted, for the people fled at the first sound of the guns.
As soon as the firing was over, the rabble broke loose and a
perfect reign of terror prevailed. The mob carried black flags
and swept over town and country, plundering and murdering. The
Christians were of course the first object of attack, and to tear
down a church was the mob's fiercest joy. Seven of the most
beautiful chapels were completely destroyed and many others
In the town of Toa-liong-pong was the home of Koa Kau, one of Kai
Bok-su's most devoted students. Here was a lovely chapel built at
great expense. The crowd tore it to pieces from roof to
foundation. Then, out of the bricks of the ruin they erected a
huge pile, eight feet high; they plastered it over with mud, and
on the face of it, next the highway where every one might see it,
they wrote in large Chinese characters:
They knew that the first was not true, but they firmly believed
the latter statement, for they understood little of the power of
the gospel.
At Sin-tiam the crowd of ruffians smashed the doors and windows
of the church. Then they took the communion roll and read aloud
the names of the Christians who had been baptized. As each name
was announced, some of the murderers would rush off toward the
home of the one mentioned. Here they would torture and often kill
the members of the family. The native preacher and his family
barely escaped with their lives. One good old Christian man with
his wife, both over sixty, were dragged out into the deep water
of the Sin-tiam river. Here they were given a choice. If they
gave up Jesus Christ, their lives would be saved. If they still
remained Christians, they would be drowned right there and then.
The brave old couple refused to accept life at such a cost.
"I'm not ashamed to own my Lord," was a hymn Kai Bok-su had
taught them, and they had meant every word as they had sung it
many times in the pretty chapel by the river. And so they were
"not ashamed" now. They were led deeper and deeper into the
water, and at every few feet the way of escape was offered, but
they steadily refused, and were at last flung into the river--
faithful martyrs who certainly won a crown of life.
These were only two among many brave Christians who died for
their Master's sake. Some were put to tortures too horrible to
tell to make them give up their faith. Some were hung by their
hair to trees, some were kicked or beaten to death, many were
slashed with knives until death relieved their pain. And on every
side the most noble Christian heroism was shown. In all ages
there have been those who died for their faith in Jesus Christ;
and these Formosan followers of their Master proved themselves no
less faithful than the martyrs of old.
And where was Kai Bok-su while the mob raged over the country?
Going about his work in Tamsui as of old. Only now he worked both
night and day, and the anxiety for his poor converts kept him
awake in the few hours when he might have snatched some sleep. He
was here, there, everywhere at once, it seemed, writing letters
to encourage the Christians in distress, visiting those who were
wavering to strengthen their faith, teaching his students,
praying, preaching, night and day, he never ceased; and always
the mob surged about him threatening his life.
The French ships now sailed out of Kelung harbor and took up
their position opposite Tamsui. Every one knew this probably
meant bombardment, and Dr. Mackay and Mr. Jamieson, standing on
the bluff before their houses, looked at each other and each knew
the other's thought. Bombardment would mean that the mob would
come raging up and destroy both life and property on the hill.
But just as they expected the roar of guns to open, there sailed
into Tamsui harbor a vessel that flew a different flag from the
French. Mackay, looking at her through a glass, made out with joy
the crosses on the red banner of Britain! England had nothing to
do with this Chinese-French war, but as a British vessel can be
found lying around almost any port in the wide world, there of
course happened to be one near Tamsui. She gained a passport into
the harbor and sailed in with a very kindly mission; it was to
protect the lives of foreigners, not only from the French guns,
but from the Chinese mobs.
The ship had been in the harbor but a short time when a young
English naval officer, carrying the British flag, came up the
path to the houses on the bluff. Dr. Mackay was in the library of
Oxford College, lecturing to his students, when the visitor
The missionary made the sailor welcome and the young man told his
errand. Dr. Mackay was invited to bring his family and his
valuables and come on board the vessel to be the guest of the
captain until the disturbance was over.
It was a most kindly invitation and Dr. Mackay shook his
visitor's hand warmly as he thanked him. He turned and translated
the message to his students, and their hearts stood still with
dismay. If Kai Bok-su, their stay and support, were to be taken
away, what would become of them? But Kai Bok-su had not changed
with the changing circumstances. He was still as brave and
undaunted as though trouble had never come to his island.
He turned to the officer again with a smile. "My family would not
be hard to move," he said, "but my valuables--I am afraid I could
not take them." He made a gesture toward the students standing
about him. "These young men and many more converts scattered all
over north Formosa, are my valuables. Many of them have faced
death unflinchingly for my sake. They are my valuables, and I
cannot leave them."
It was bravely said, just as Kai Bok-su might be expected to
speak, and the English officer's eyes kindled with appreciation.
The words found a ready response in his heart. They were the
words of a true soldier of the King. The officer went back to his
captain with Mackay's message and with a deep admiration in his
heart for the man who would rather face death than leave his
So the British man-of-war drew off, leaving the missionaries in
the midst of danger. And almost immediately, with a great
bursting roar, the bombardment from the French ships opened.
Sometimes the shells flew high over the town and up to the bluff,
so Dr. and Mrs. Mackay put their three little ones in a safe
corner under the house; but they themselves as well as Mr. and
Mrs. Jamieson, went in and out to and from the college, and the
girls' school as though nothing were happening.
Every day Mackay's work grew heavier and his anxiety for the
persecuted Christians grew deeper. He ate very little, and he
scarcely slept at all. It was not the noise of the carnage about
him that kept him awake. He would have fallen asleep peacefully
amidst bursting shells, but he had no opportunity. The whole
burden of the young Church, harassed by persecution on all sides,
seemed to rest upon his spirit. Anxiety for the Christians in the
inland stations from whom he could not hear weighed on him night
and day, and his brave spirit was put to the severest test.
Only his great strong faith in God kept him up and kept up the
spirits of the converts who looked to him for an example. And a
brave pattern he showed them. Often he and A Hoa paced the lawn
in front of the house while shot and shell whizzed around them.
During the worst of the bombardment they came and went between
the college and the house as if they had charmed lives. One day
there was a great roar and a shell struck Oxford College, shaking
it to its foundations. The smoke from fort and ships had scarcely
cleared away when, crash! and the girls' school was struck by a
bursting shell. Next moment there was a fearful bang and a great
stone that stood in front of the Mackays' house went up into the
air in a thousand fragments.
But when the firing was hottest, Kai Bok-su would repeat to his
students the comforting Psalm:
"Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the
arrow that flieth by day."
But in spite of his brave demeanor, the strain on the shepherd of
this harassed flock was beginning to tell. And when the
bombardment ceased and the intense anxiety for his loved ones was
over, Kai Bok-su suddenly collapsed. Dr. Johnsen, the foreign
physician of Tamsui, came hurriedly up to the mission house to
see him. His verdict sent a thrill of dismay through every heart
that loved him, from the anxious little wife by the patient's
side, to the poorest convert in the town below. Their beloved Kai
Bok-su had brain fever.
"Too much anxiety and too little sleep," said the medical man.
"He must sleep now," he added, "or he will die." But now that Kai
Bok-su had a chance to rest, he could not. Sleep had been chased
away too long to stay with him. Night and day he tossed about,
wide awake and burning with fever. His temperature was never less
than 102 during those days, and all the doctor's efforts could
not lower it. The awful heat of September was on, and the great
typhoons that would soon sweep across the country and clear the
air had not yet come. The glaring sun and the stifling damp heat
were all against the patient. At last one day the doctor saw a
crisis was approaching. He stood looking down at the hot, flushed
face, at the burning eyes, and the restless hands that were never
still, and he said to himself, "If the fever does not go down
to-day, he will die."
The doctor went along College Road toward his home, answering the
eager, anxious questions that met him on all sides with only a
shake of his head.
A Hoa followed him, his drawn face full of pleading. Was he no
better? he asked with quivering lips. It was the question poor A
Hoa asked many, many times a day, for he never left the house
when not away on duty. The doctor's face was full of sympathy and
his own heart weighed down as he sadly answered, "No."
"If I only had some ice," he muttered, knowing well he had none.
"If there was only one bit of ice in Tamsui, I'd save him yet."
Over in the British consulate Dr. Johnsen had another patient.
Mr. Dodd lay sick there, though not nearly as ill as the
missionary, and the physician's next visit was to him. When he
entered he found a servant carrying a tray with some ice on it to
the sick room.
"Ice!" cried the doctor, overjoyed. "Where did it come from?"
The servant explained that the steamship Hailoong had just
arrived in Tamsui harbor with it that morning. The doctor entered
Mr. Dodd's room. Would he give him that ice to save Mackay's
life? was the question he asked. To save such a life as Mackay's!
That was an absurd question, Mr. Dodd declared, and he
immediately ordered that every bit of ice he had should be sent
at once to the missionary's house.
The doctor hurried back up the hill with the precious remedy. He
broke up a piece and laid it like a little cushion on poor Kai
Bok-su's hot forehead; that forehead beneath which the busy
brain, resting neither day nor night, was burning up. It had not
been there a great while before the restless eyes lost their
fire, the eyelids drooped and, wonderful sight, Kai Bok-su sank
into a sleep! The doctor hardly dared to breathe. If he could
only be kept asleep now, he had a chance. Dr. Mackay had never
been a sleeper, he well knew. He was too restless, too energetic,
to allow himself even proper rest. When Dr. Fraser, his first
assistant, had been with him, he had struggled to persuade him to
stay in bed at least six hours every night, but not always with
success. But now he was to show what he could do in the matter of
sleeping. All that night he lay, breathing peacefully, the next
day he slept on from morning till night, and little by little the
ice melted away on his forehead. He did not move all the next
night, and A Hoa and Mrs. Mackay and the doctor took turns at his
bedside watching that the precious ice was always there. Morning
came and it was all finished. The patient opened his eyes. He had
slept thirty-six hours, and a thrill of joy went through every
Christian heart in Tamsui, for their Kai Bok-su was saved!
But though the crisis was over, he was still very weak, and such
was the state of affairs through the country that he was in no
condition to cope with them. Riot and plunder was the order of
the day. News of churches being destroyed, of faithful Christians
being tortured or put to death, were still coming to the mission
house, and no one could tell what day would bring Kai Bok-su's
And now came an order from the British consul which the
missionaries could not disobey. He commanded that their families
must be moved at once from Formosa, as he could not answer for
their protection. So at once preparations for their departure
were made, and Mr. Jamieson took his wife and Mrs. Mackay and her
three little ones and sailed away for Hongkong.
But once more Kai Bok-su stayed behind. It cost him bitter pain
to part with his loved ones, knowing he might never see them
again; he was weak and spent with fever, and his poor body was
worn to a shadow, but he stubbornly refused to leave the men who
had stood by him in every danger. The consul commanded, the
doctor pleaded, but no, Kai Bok-su would not go. If the danger
had grown greater, then all the more reason why he should stay
and comfort his people. And if God were pleased to send death,
then they would all die together.
But he was so weak and sick that the doctor feared that if he
remained there would be little chance for the mob to kill him:
death would come sooner. So he came to his stubborn patient with
a new proposition. The Fukien, a merchant steamship, was now
lying in Tamsui harbor. She was to run to Hongkong and back
directly. If Mackay would only take that trip, his physician
urged, the sea air would make him new again, and he would return
in a short time and be ready to take up his work once more.
It was that promise that moved Mackay's resolution. His utter
weakness held him down from work, and he longed with all his soul
to go out through the country to helps the poor, suffering
churches. So he finally consented to take the short journey and
pay a visit to his dear ones in Hongkong.
He did not get back quite as soon as he intended, for the French
blockade delayed his vessel. But at last he stepped out upon the
Tamsui dock into a crowd of preachers, students, and converts who
were weeping for joy about him and exclaiming over his improved
The voyage had certainly done wonders for him, and at once he
declared he must take a trip into the country and visit those who
were left of the churches.
It was a desperate undertaking, for French soldiers were now
scattered through the country, guarding the larger towns and
cities and everywhere mobs of furious Chinese were ready to
torture or kill every foreigner. But it would take even greater
difficulties than these to stop Kai Bok-su, and he began at once
to lay plans for going on a tour.
He first went to the British consul and came back in high spirits
with a folded paper m his hand. He spread it out on the library
table before A Hoa and Sun-a, who were to go with him, and this
is what it said:
British Consulate, Tamsui,
May 27th, 1885.
The bearer of this paper, the Rev. George Leslie Mackay, D.D., a
British subject, missionary in Formosa, wishes to enter Kelung,
to visit his chapel and his house there, and to proceed through
Kelung to Kap-tsu-lan on the east coast of Formosa to visit his
converts there. Wherefore I, the undersigned, consul for Great
Britain at Tamsui, do beg the officer in chief command of the
French forces in Kelung to grant the said George Leslie Mackay
entry into, and a free and safe passage through, Kelung. He will
be accompanied by two Chinese followers, belonging to his
mission, named, respectively, Giam Chheng Hoa, and Iap Sun.
A. FRATER, Her Britannic Majesty's Consul at Tamsui.
They had all the power of the British Empire behind them so long
as they held that paper. Then they hired a burden-bearer to carry
their food, and Mackay cut a bamboo pole, fully twenty feet long,
and on it tied the British flag. With this floating over them,
the little army marched through the rice-fields down to Kelung.
It was an adventurous journey. But, wonderful though it seemed,
they came through it safely. Poor Kai Bok-su's heart was torn as
he saw the ravages the mob had made on his churches. But what a
cheer his heart received when he found that persecution had
strengthened the converts that were left and everywhere the
heathen marveled that men should die for the faith the barbarian
missionary had taught. They were taken prisoners once for German
spies, and led far out of their way. But they came back to Tamsui
safely, having greatly cheered the faithful Christians who still
were true to their Master, Jesus Christ. It was early in June,
just one year from the opening of the war, that the French sailed
away. They were disgusted with the whole affair, the commander of
one vessel told Dr. Mackay, and they were all very glad it was
Mr. and Mrs. Jamieson and Dr. Mackay's family returned to their
homes on the bluff, and work started up again with its old vigor.
But everywhere the heathen were in great glee. Christianity had
been destroyed with the chapels, they were sure. Wherever Mackay
went, shouts of derision followed him, and everywhere he could
hear the joyful cry "Long-tsong bo-khi!" which meant "The mission
is wiped out!"
But strange though it may seem, the mission had never been
stronger, and it soon began to assert itself. Dr. Mackay went at
the work of repairing the lost buildings with all the force of
his nature. First, he and Mr. Jamieson and A Hoa sat down and
prepared a statement of their losses. This they sent to the
commander-in-chief of the Chinese forces, who had been
responsible for law and order. Without any delay or questioning
of the missionaries' rights, the general sent Dr. Mackay the sum
asked for--ten thousand Mexican dollars.*
*About $5000.
The next thing was to plan the new chapels and see to the
building of them. And before the shouts of "Long-tsong bo-khi"
had well started, they began to be contradicted by walls of brick
or stone that rose up strong and sure to show that the mission
had not been wiped out. Three of the chapels were commenced all
at once--at Sintiam, at Bang-kah and at Sek-khau. Before anything
was done Dr. Mackay and a party of his students went up to
Sin-tiam to look over the site. They stood up on the pile of
ruins, surrounded by the Christians, and a crowd of heathen came
around gleefully to watch them in the hopes of seeing their
But to their amazement the little company of Christians led by
the wonderful Kai Bok-su, suddenly burst into a hymn of praise to
God who had brought them safely through all their troubles:
Bless, O my soul, the Lord thy God,
And not forgetful be
Of all his gracious benefits
He hath bestowed on thee!
The heathen listened in wonder to the words of praise where they
had expected lamentation, and they asked each other what was this
strange power that made men so strong and brave.
And their amazement grew as the chapels, the lovely new chapels
of stone or brick, began to rise from the ruins of the old ones.
And not only did the old ones reappear, new and more beautiful,
but as Dr. Mackay and his native preachers went here and there
over the country others peeped forth like the hepaticas of
springtime, until there were not only the forty original chapels,
but in a few years the number had increased to sixty.
The triumphant shout that the mission had been wiped out ceased
completely, and the people declared that they had been fools to
try to destroy the chapels, for the result had been only bigger
and better ones.
"Look now," said one old heathen, pointing a withered finger to
the handsome spire of the Bang-kah chapel, that lifted itself
toward the sky, "Look now, the chapel towers above our temple. It
is larger than the one we destroyed."
His neighbors crowding about him and gazing up with superstitious
awe at the spire, agreed.
"If we touch this one he will build another and a bigger one,"
remarked another man.
"We cannot stop the barbarian missionary," said the old heathen
with an air of conviction.
"No, no one can stop the great Kai Bok-su," they finally agreed,
and so they left off all opposition in despair.
Yes, the cry of "Long-tsong bo-khi" had died, and the answer to
it was inscribed on the front of the splendid chapels that sprang
up all over north Formosa. For, just above the main entrance to
each, worked out in stucco plaster, was a picture of the burning
bush, and around it in Chinese the grand old motto:
"Nec tamen consumebatur" ("Yet it was not consumed.")
Up and down the length and breadth of north Formosa, seeming to
be in two or three places at once, went Kai Bok-su, during this
time of reviving after the war. He would be in Kelung to-day
superintending the new chapel building, in Tamsui at Oxford
College the next day, in Bang-kah preaching a short while after,
and no one could tell just where the next day.
But every one did know that wherever he went, Christians grew
stronger and heathen gave up their idols. The Kap-tsu-lan plain,
away on the eastern coast, seemed to be a sort of pet among all
his mission fields, and he was always turning his steps thither.
For the Pe-po-hoan who lived there, while they were simple and
warm-hearted and easily moved by the gospel story, were not such
strong characters as the Chinese. So the missionary felt he must
visit them often to help steady their faith.
Not long after the close of the war, he set off on a trip to the
Kap-tsu-lan plain. Besides his students, he was accompanied by a
young German scientist. Dr. Warburg had come from Germany to
Formosa to collect peculiar plants and flowers and to find any
old weapons or relics of interest belonging to the savage tribes.
All these were for the use of the university in Germany which had
sent him out.
The young scientist was delighted with Dr. Mackay and found in
him a very interesting companion. They met in Kelung, and when
Dr. Warburg found that Dr. Mackay was going to visit the
Kap-tsu-lan plain, he joined his party. The stranger found many
rare specimens of orchids on that trip and several peculiar spear
and arrow heads to be taken back as curios to Germany. But he
found something rarer and more wonderful and something for which
he had not come to search.
He saw in one place three hundred people gather about their
missionary and raise a ringing hymn of praise to the God of
heaven, of whom they had not so much as heard but a few short
years before. He visited sixteen little chapels and heard clever,
bright-faced young Chinese preachers stand up in them and tell
the old, old story of Jesus and his love. And he realized that
these things were far more wonderful than the rarest curios he
could find in all Formosa.
When he bade good-by to Dr. Mackay, he said: "I never saw
anything like this before. If scientific skeptics had traveled
with a missionary as I have and witnessed what I have witnessed
on this plain, they would assume a different attitude toward the
heralds of the cross."
Not many months later Dr. Mackay again went down the eastern
coast. This time he took three of his closest friends, all
preacher students, Tan He, Sun-a, and Koa Kau. With a coolie to
carry provisions, their Bibles, their forceps, and some malaria
medicine, they started off fully equipped. By steam launch to
Bang-kah, by a queer little railway train to Tsui-tng-kha and by
foot to Kelung was the first part of the journey. The next part
was a tramp over the mountains to Kap-tsu-lan.
The road now grew rough and dangerous. Overhead hung loose rocks,
huge enough to crush the whole party should they fall. Underneath
were wet, slippery stones which might easily make one go sliding
down into the chasm below.
As usual on this trip they had many hair-breadth escapes, for
there were savages too hiding up in the dense forest and waiting
an opportunity to spring out upon the travelers. Dr. Mackay was
almost caught in a small avalanche also. He leaped over a narrow
stream-bed, and as he did so, he dislodged a loose mass of rock
above him. It came down with a fearful crash, scattering the
smaller pieces right upon his heels; but they passed all dangers
safely and toward evening reached the shore where the great long
Pacific billows rolled upon the sand. They were in the
Kap-tsu-lan plain.
Their journey through the plain was like a triumphal march.
Wherever a chapel had been erected, there were converts to be
examined; wherever there was no chapel, the people gathered about
the missionary and pleaded for one. They often recalled the first
visit of Kai Bok-su when "No room for barbarians" were the only
words that met him.
But Dr. Mackay wished to go farther on this journey than he had
ever gone. Some distance south of Kap-tsu-lan lay another
district called the Ki-lai plain. The people here were also
aborigines of the island who had been conquered by the Chinese
like the Pe-po-hoan. But the inhabitants of Ki-lai were called
Lam-si-hoan, which means "Barbarians of the south." Dr. Mackay
had never been among them, but they had heard the gospel. A
missionary from Oxford College had journeyed away down there to
tell the people about Jesus and had been working among them for
some years. He was not a graduate, not even a student--but only
the cook! For Oxford College was such a place of inspiration
under Kai Bok-su, that even the servants in the kitchen wanted to
go out and preach the gospel. So the cook had gone away to the
Ki-lai plain, and, ever since he had left, Dr. Mackay had longed
to go and see how his work was prospering.
So at one of the most southerly points of the Kap-tsu-lan plain
he secured a boat for the voyage south. The best he could get was
a small craft quite open, only twelve feet long. It was not a
very fine vessel with which to brave the Pacific Ocean, but where
was the crazy craft in which Kai Bok-su would not embark to go
and tell the gospel to the heathen? The boat was manned by six
Pe-po-hoan rowers, all Christians, and at five o'clock in the
evening they pushed out into the surf of So Bay. A crowd of
converts came down to the shore to bid them farewell. As the boat
shoved off the friends on the beach started a hymn. The rowers
and the missionaries caught it up and the two groups joined, the
sound of each growing fainter and fainter to the other as the
distance widened.
All lands to God in joyful sounds
Aloft your voices raise,
Sing forth the honor of his name,
And glorious make his praise!
And the land and the sea, answering each other, joined in praise
to him who was the Maker of both.
And so the rowers pulled away in time to the swing of the Psalm,
the boat rounded a point, and the beloved figure of Kai Bok-su
disappeared from sight.
Away down the coast the oarsmen pulled, and the four missionaries
squeezed themselves into as small a space as possible to be out
of the way of the oars. All the evening they rowed steadily, and
as they still swept along night came down suddenly. They kept
close to the shore, where to their right arose great mountains
straight up from the water's edge. They were covered with forest,
and here and there in the blackness fires twinkled.
"Head-hunters!" said the helmsman, pointing toward them.
Away to the left stretched the Pacific Ocean, and above shone the
stars in the deep blue dome. It was a still, hot tropical night.
From the land came the heavy scent of flowers. The only sound
that broke the stillness was the regular thud, thud of the oars
or the cry of some wild animal floating out from the jungle. As
they passed on through the warm darkness, the sea took on that
wonderful fiery glow that so often burns on the oceans of the
tropics. Every wave became a blaze of phosphorescence. Every
ripple from the oars ran away in many-colored flames--red, green,
blue, and orange. Kai Bok-su, sitting amazed at the glory to
which the Pe-po-hoan boatmen had become accustomed, was silent
with awe. He had seen the phosphorescent lights often before, but
never anything like this. He put his hand down into the molten
sea and scooped up handfuls of what seemed drops of liquid fire.
And as his fingers dipped into the water they shone like rods of
red-hot iron. Over the gleaming iridescent surface, sparks of
fire darted like lightning, and from the little boat's sides
flashed out flames of gold and rose and amber. It was grand. And
no wonder they all joined--Chinese, Malayan, and Canadian--in
making the dark cliffs and the gleaming sea echo to the strains
of praise to the One who had created all this glory.
O come let us sing to the Lord,
To him our voices raise
With joyful noise, let us the rock
Of our salvation praise.
To him the spacious sea belongs,
For he the same did make;
The dry land also from his hand
Its form at first did take.
Dawn came up out of the Pacific with a new glory of light and
color that dispelled the wonders of the night. It showed the
voyagers that they were very near a low shore where it would be
possible to land. But the helmsman shook his head at the
proposal. He pointed out huts along the line of forest and
figures on the shore. And then with a common impulse, the rowers
swung round and pulled straight out to sea; for with Pe-po-hoan
experience they saw at once that here was a savage village, and
not long would their heads remain on their shoulders should they
touch land.
The scorching sun soon poured its hot rays upon the tired rowers,
but they pulled steadily. They too, like Kai Bok-su, were anxious
to take this great good news of Jesus Christ to those who had not
yet learned of him. When safely out of reach of the headhunters,
they once more turned south, and, about noon, tired and hot, at
last approached the first port of the Ki-lai plain. Every one
drew a sigh of relief, for the men had been rowing steadily all
night and half the day. As they drew near Dr. Mackay looked
eagerly at the queer village. It appeared to be half Chinese and
half Lam-si-hoan. It consisted of two rows of small thatched
houses with a street between nearly two hundred feet wide.
The rowers ran the boat up on the sloping pebbly beach and all
stepped out with much relief to stretch their stiffened limbs.
They had scarcely done so when a military officer came down the
shore and approaching Dr. Mackay made him welcome with the
greatest warmth. There was a military encampment here, and this
was the officer as well as the headman of the village. He invited
Dr. Mackay and his friends to take dinner with him. Dr. Mackay
accepted with pleased surprise. This was far better than he had
expected. He was still more surprised to hear his name on every
"It is the great Kai Bok-su," could be heard in tones of deepest
respect from fishermen at their nets and old women by the door
and children playing with their kites in the wide street.
"How do they know me?" he asked, as he was greeted by a
rice-seller, sitting at the open front of his shop.
"Ah, we have heard of you and your work in the north, Pastor
Mackay," said his host, smiling, "and our people want to hear of
this new Jehovah-religion too.
The cook-missionary had evidently spread wonderful reports of Kai
Bok-su and his gospel and so prepared the way. He was preaching
just then in a place called Ka-le-oan, farther inland. When the
officer learned that Dr. Mackay wanted to visit him he turned to
his servant with a most surprising order. It was to saddle his
pony and bring him for Kai Bok-su to ride to Ka-le-oan.
The pony came, sleek and plump and with a string of jingling
bells adorning him. A pony was a wonderful sight in Formosa, and
Dr. Mackay had not used any sort of animal in his work since that
disastrous day when he had tried in vain to ride the stubborn
Lu-a. But now he gladly mounted the sedate little steed and
trotted away along the narrow pathway between the rice-fields
toward Ka-le-oan.
Darkness had almost descended when he rode into the village and
stopped before a small grass-covered bamboo dwelling where the
cook-preacher lived. For years the people here had looked for Kai
Bok-su's coming, for years they had talked of this great event,
and for years their preacher had been writing and saying as he
received his reply from the eager missionary in Tamsui, "He may
come soon."
And now he was really here! The sound of his horse's bells had
scarcely stopped before the preacher's house, when the news began
to spread like fire through the village. The preacher, who had
worked so hard and waited so long, wept for joy, and before he
could make Dr. Mackay welcome in a proper manner the room was
filled with men, all wildly eager for a sight of the great Kai
Bok-su, while outside a crowd gathered about the door striving to
get even a glimpse of him. The ex-cook of Oxford College had
preached so faithfully that many were already converted to
Christianity, many more knew a good deal of the gospel, and
crowds were ready to throw away their idols. They were weary of
their heathen rites and superstitions. They were longing for
something better, they scarcely knew what. "But the mandarin will
not let them become Christians," said the preacher anxiously. "It
is he who is keeping them from decision. He has said that they
must continue in idolatry, as a token of loyalty to China."
"Are you sure that is true?" cried Dr. Mackay.
The converts nodded. They had "heard" it said at least.
But Kai Bok-su was not the man to accept mere hearsay. He was
always wisely careful to avoid any collision with the
authorities. But remembering the kindness shown him back in
Hoe-lien-kang, he could not quite believe that the mandarin who
had been so kind to him could be hostile to the religion of Jesus
To think was to act, and early the next morning, he was riding
back to the seacoast, to inquire how much of this rumor was true.
His reception was very warm. It was all right, the officer
declared. Whatever had been said or done in the past must be
forgotten. Kai Bok-su might go where he pleased and preach his
Jehovah-religion to whomsoever he would.
It was a very light-hearted rider the pony carried as he galloped
back along the narrow paths, with the good news for the
villagers. The word went round as soon as he arrived. Kai Bok-su
wanted to know how many were for the true God. All who would
worship him were at once to clear their houses of idols and
declare that they would serve Jehovah and him only. At dark a
great crowd gathered in an open space in the village.
Representatives from five villages were there, chiefs were
shouting to their people, and when Dr. Mackay and his students
arrived, the place was all noise and confusion. He was puzzled.
It almost looked as if there was to be a riot, though the voices
did not sound angry.
He climbed up on a pile of rubbish and his face shone clear in
the light of the flaring torches. His voice rang out loud and
commanding above the tumult.
"What is this noise about?" he cried. "Is there a difference of
opinion among you as to whether you shall worship these poor toys
of wood and stone, or the true God who is your Father?"
He paused and as if from one man came back the answer in a mighty
"No, we will worship the true God!"
The tumult had been one of enthusiasm and not of dispute!
Kai Bok-su's heart gave a great bound. For a moment he could not
speak. He who had so often stood up fearless and bold before a
raging heathen mob, now faltered before this sea of eager faces,
upturned to him. It seemed too good to be true that all this
crowd, representing five villages, was anxious to become
followers of the God of heaven. His voice grew steady at last,
and standing up there in the flickering torchlight he told those
children of the plain what it meant to be a follower of Jesus
Christ. It was a late hour when the meeting broke up, but even
then Dr. Mackay could not go to bed. Never since the day that A
Hoa, his first convert, had accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior,
had he felt such joy, and all night he walked up and down in
front of the preacher's house, unable to sleep for the
thankfulness to God that surged in his heart.
Morning brought a wonderful day for the Ki-lai plain. It was like
a day when freedom from slavery was announced. Had there been
bells in the village they would certainly have been rung. But joy
bells were ringing in every heart. Nobody could work all day. The
rice-fields and the shops and the pottery works lay idle. There
was but one business to do that day, and that was to get rid of
their idols.
Early in the morning the mayor of the place, or the headman as he
was called, came to the house to invite the missionary and his
party to join him. Behind him walked four big boys, carrying two
large wicker baskets, hanging from poles across their shoulders;
and behind them came the whole village, men, women, and children,
their faces shining with a new joy. The procession moved along
from house to house. At every place it stopped and out from the
home were carried idols, ancestral tablets, mock-money, flags,
incense sticks, and all the stuff used in idol worship. These
were all emptied into the baskets carried by the boys. When even
the temple had been ransacked and the work of clearing out the
idols in the village was finished, the procession moved on to the
next hamlet. The villages were very near each other, so the
journey was not wearisome; and at last when every vestige of the
old idolatrous life had been taken from the homes of five
villages, the happy crowd marched back to the first village.
There was a large courtyard near the temple and here the
procession halted. The boys dropped their well-filled baskets,
and their contents were piled in the center of the court. The
people gathered about the heap and with shouts of joy set fire to
these signs of their lifelong slavery. Soon the pile was blazing
and crackling, and all the people, even the chiefs of the
villages, vied with each other in burning up the idols they had
so lately besought for blessings.
And then they turned toward the heathen temple and delivered it
over to Kai Bok-su for a chapel in which he and his students
might preach the gospel.
And so the temple was lighted up for a new kind of worship. It
had been used for worship many, many times before, but oh, how
different it was this time! Instead of coming in fear of demons,
dread of their gods' anger, and determination to cheat them if
possible, these poor folk crowded into the new-old temple with
light, happy hearts, as children coming to their Father. And was
not God their Father, only they had not known him before?
The heathen temple was dedicated to the worship of the true God
by singing the old but always new, one hundredth Psalm. The
Lam-si-hoan were not very good singers. They had not much idea of
tune. They had less idea of just when to start, and there was
very little to be said about the harmony of those hundreds of
voices. But in spite of it all, Kai Bok-su had to confess that
never in the music of his homeland or in the more finished
harmonies of Europe, had he heard anything so grandly uplifting
as when those newly-freed people stood up in their idol temple
and with heart and soul and voice unitedly poured forth in
thunderous volume of praise the great command:
All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.
For a whole week with his pony and groom, which were still his to
do with as he pleased, the busy missionary rode up and down this
plain, visiting the villages, preaching, and teaching the people
how to live as Jesus Christ their Savior had lived; for it was
necessary to impress upon their childlike minds that it would be
of no use to burn up the idols in their homes and temple unless
they also gave up the still more harmful idols in their hearts.
But at last the day came when the pony had to be returned to its
owner and the missionary and his helpers must leave. It was a sad
day but a joyous one--the day that great visit came to an end.
Crowds of Christians, fain to keep him, followed him down to the
shore, and many kindly but reluctant hands shoved the little boat
out into the surf. And as the rowers sent it skimming out over
the great Pacific rollers, there rose from the beach the parting
hymn, the one that had dedicated the heathen temple to the
worship of the true God:
All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.
and from the rowers and the missionaries in the boat, came back
the glad echo:
Know that the Lord is God indeed
Without our aid he did us make.
They were soon out of sight. The rowers pulled hard, but a stiff
northeaster straight from Japan was blowing against them, and
they made but little headway. Night came down, and they were
again skirting those dark cliffs, where, here and there, along
the narrow strip of sand, the night-fires of the savages flamed
out against the dark tangle of foliage. All night long the rowers
struggled against the wind. They were afraid to go out far for
the waves were wild, they dared not land, for, crueler than the
sea, the head-hunters waited for them on the shore. And so all
that night, taking turns with the rowers, the missionary and his
students toiled against the wind and wave. The dawn came up gray
and stormy, and they were still tossing about among the white
billows. No one had touched food for twenty-four hours. They had
rice in the boat, but there was no place where they dared land to
have it cooked. There was nothing to do but to pull, pull at the
oars, and a weary task it seemed, for the boat appeared to make
little headway, and the rowers barely succeeded in keeping her
from being dashed upon the rocks.
They were becoming almost too weak to keep any control over their
boat, when about three o'clock in the afternoon they managed to
round a point. There before them curved a beautiful bay. Behind
it and on both sides arose a perpendicular wall several hundred
feet high. At its foot stretched a narrow sandy beach. It was an
ideal spot, secure from savages both by land and sea. A shout of
encouragement from Kai Bok-su was the one thing needed. Tired
arms and aching backs bent to the oars for one last effort, and
when the boat swept up on the sandy beach every one uttered a
heartfelt prayer of thankfulness to the Father who had provided
this little haven in a time of such distress.
The rest of the journey was made safely, and just forty days
after their departure the four missionaries returned, worn out,
to Tamsui.
But Kai Bok-su had no sooner returned than he was off again. He
was not one of that sort who could settle down after an
achievement, content to rest for a little. He seemed to forget
all about what had been done and was "up and at it again." If he
"did not know when he was beaten," neither did he seem to know
when he was successful; and like Alexander the Great he was
always sighing for new worlds to conquer, yes, and marching off
and conquering them too.
But every time he returned to his work at Tamsui from one of
these tours, it was borne in upon him more forcibly every day
that his faithful assistant who was left in charge, could not
long shoulder his work. Mr. Jamieson was fighting a losing battle
with ill health. The terrible experiences during the war year,
the hard work, and the trying Formosan climate had all combined
against him. His brave spirit could not always sustain the body
that was growing gradually weaker, and one day, a dark, sad day,
the devoted soul was set free from the poor pain-racked body. He
had given eight years of hard, faithful work to the study of the
language and to the service of the Master in the mission. Mrs.
Jamieson returned to Canada, and once more Dr. Mackay faced the
work, unaided except by native preachers. But he was not daunted
even by this bereavement, for he always lived in the perfect
faith that God was on his side.
And then, he had by this time three new assistants in the
mission-house on the bluff. They did not even guess that they
were any help to him, for they could never go with him on his
mission tours. But by their sweet merry ways and their joyous
welcome to father, when he returned, they did help him greatly,
and made his home-comings a delight.
"How many did you baptize, father?" was baby George's inevitable
question on his father's return. For already the wise toddler had
learned something of the bitter enmity of the heathen world, and
knew that converts meant friends. Then father's home-coming meant
presents too, wonderful things, bows and arrows, rare curios for
the museum in the college, and, once, a pair of the funniest
monkeys in the world, which proved most entertaining playthings
for the little boy and his two sisters. Another time the father
brought home a young bear to keep the monkeys company, but they
were not at all polite to their guest, for they made poor bruin's
life miserable by teasing him. They would torment him until he
would stamp with rage. But he was not always badly used, for when
the three children would come out to feed him, he was very happy,
and he would show his pleasure by putting his head between his
paws and rolling over and over like a big ball of fur. And he
always seemed quite proud of his performance when his three
little keepers shrieked with laughter.
The next year after Mr. Jamieson's death the empty mission-house
was once more filled. In September the Rev. Mr. William and Mrs.
Gauld sailed from Canada, and with their arrival Dr. Mackay took
new heart.
The new missionaries had learned the language and their work was
well under way when the time came round once more for Dr. Mackay
to go back to Canada for a year's rest. This time there was quite
a little party went with him: his wife, their three children, and
Koa Kau, one of his students.
Among those left to assist Mr. Gauld, there was none he relied
upon more than A Hoa. Mr. Gauld, at the close of his second
year's work, wrote of this fellow worker: "The longer and better
I know him, the more I can love him, trust his honesty, and
respect his judgment. He knows his own people, from the governor
of the island to the ragged opium-smoking beggar, and has
influence with them all."
There were many others besides A Hoa to render the missionary
faithful help; among them Sun-a and Tan He, the latter pastor of
the church of Sin-tiam; and just because Kai Bok-su was away they
worked the harder, that he might receive a good report of them on
his return.
The separation was longer this time, for Dr. Mackay wished to
send his children to school, and he decided that they would
remain in Canada two years. He was made Moderator of the General
Assembly, too, and the Church at home needed him to stir them up
to a greater desire to help those beyond the seas.
While he was working and preaching in Canada, his heart turned
always to his beloved Formosa, and letters from the friends there
were among his greatest pleasures. A Hoa's of course, were doubly
welcome. Pastor Giam, the name by which he was now called, was
Mr. Gauld's right-hand helper in those days, and once he went
alone on a tour away to the eastern shore. While there he had an
adventure of which he wrote to Kai Bok-su.
"The other morning while walking on the seashore I saw a
sailing-vessel slowly drifting shoreward and in danger of being
wrecked, for there was a fog and a heavy sea. I hastened back to
the chapel and beat the drum to call the villagers to worship. As
soon as it was over I asked converts and heathen to go in their
fishing-boats as quickly as possible and let the sailors know
they need not fear savages there, and if they wished to come
ashore a chapel would be given them to stay in. The whole crew
came ashore in the boats at once. I gave your old room to the
captain, his wife and child, and other accommodation to the rest.
I then hurried away to a mandarin and asked him to send men to
protect the ship."
When Kai Bok-su read the story and remembered that, twenty-five
years earlier, the crew of that vessel would have been murdered
and their ship plundered, he exclaimed with joy, "Blessed
Christianity! Surely,
Blessings abound where'er He reigns!"
A Hoa had another tale to tell. One afternoon he had a strange
congregation in that little chapel. There were one hundred and
forty-six native converts and twenty-one Europeans. These were
made up of seven nationalities, British, American, French,
Danish, Turkish, Swiss, and Norwegian. Their ship was from
America and was bound for Hongkong with coal-oil.
They were amazed at seeing a pretty, neat chapel away in this
wild, remote place, which they had always supposed was overrun by
head-hunters, and indeed it was just that little chapel that had
made the great change. These men now entered it and joined the
natives in worshiping the true God, where, only a few years
before, their blood would have stained the sands.
A Hoa told them something of the great Kai Bok-su and the
struggles he had had with savages and other enemies, when he
first came to this region. The visitors were very much interested
and did not wonder that the name "Kai Bok-su" was held in such
reverence. When they left, the captain presented the little
chapel with a bell, a lamp, and a mirror which were on board his
The long months of separation were rolling around, when something
happened that brought Kai Bok-su back to his island in great
haste. Once more war swept over Formosa. This time the trouble
was between China and Japan. The big Empire proved no match for
the clever Japanese, and everywhere China was forced to give in.
One of the places which Japan set her affections on was Formosa.
She must have the Beautiful Isle and have it at once. China was
in no position to say no, so the Chinese envoy went on board a
Japanese vessel and sailed toward Formosa. When in sight of its
lovely mountains, without any ceremony he pointed to the land and
said, "There it is, take it." And that was how Formosa became a
province of Japan. At noon on May 26, 1895, the dragon flag of
China was hauled down from Formosan forts and the banner of Japan
was hoisted.
Of course this was not done without a struggle. The Formosans
themselves fought hard, and in the fight the Christians came in
for times of trouble. So Kai Bok-su, hearing that his "valuables"
were again in danger, set sail for Tamsui.
When he arrived the war was practically over, but everywhere were
signs of strife. As soon as he was able, he took A Hoa and Koa
Kau and visited the chapels all over the country. Everywhere were
sights to make his heart very sad. The Japanese soldiers had used
many of the chapels for military stables, and they were in a
filthy state. At one place the native preacher was a prisoner,
the Japanese believing him to be a spy. At another village the
Christians sadly led their missionary out to a tea plantation and
showed him the place where their beloved pastor had been shot by
the Japanese soldiers. Mackay stood beside his grave, his heart
heavy with sorrow.
But his courage never left him. The native Christians everywhere
forgot their woes in the great joy of seeing him once more; and
he joined them in a brave attempt to put things to rights once
more. The Japanese paid for all damages done by their soldiers
and in a short time the work was going on splendidly.
"We have no fear," wrote Dr. Mackay. "The King of kings is
greater than Emperor or Mikado. He will rule and overrule all
His faith was rewarded, for when the troublous time was over, the
government of Japan proved better than that of China, and on the
whole the trial proved a blessing.
Oxford College had been closed while Dr. Mackay was away, and the
girls' school had not been opened since the war commenced, for it
was not safe for the girls and women to leave their homes during
such disturbed times. But now both schools reopened, and again
Kai Bok-su with his cane and his book and his crowd of students
could be seen going up to the lecture halls, or away out on the
Formosan roads.
He had conquered so often, overcome such tremendous obstacles,
and faced unflinchingly so many awful dangers for the sake of his
converts, that it was no wonder that they adored him, their
feeling amounting almost to worship. "Kai Bok-su says it must be
so" was sufficient to compel any one in the north Formosa Church
to do what was required. Surely never before was a man so
wonderfully rewarded in this life. He had given up all he
possessed for the glory of his Master and he had his full
A few happy years sped round. The time for him to go back home
again was drawing near when there came the first hint that he
might soon be called on a longer furlough than he would have in
At first, when the dread suspicion began to be whispered in the
halls of Oxford College and in the chapel gatherings throughout
the country, people refused to believe it. Kai Bok-su ill? No,
no, it was only the malaria, and he always arose from that and
went about again. It could not be serious.
But in spite of the fact that loving hearts refused to accept it,
there was no use denying the sad fact. There was something wrong
with Kai Bok-su. For months his voice had been growing weaker,
the doctors had examined his throat, and attended him, but it was
all of no use. At last he could not speak at all, but wrote his
words on a slate.
And everywhere in north Formosa, converts and students and
preachers watched and waited and prayed most fervently that he
might soon recover. Those who lived in Tamsui whispered to each
other in tones of dread, as they watched him come and go with
slower steps than they had been accustomed to see.
"He will be well next month," they would say hopefully, or, "He
will look like himself when the rains dry." But little by little
the conviction grew that the beloved missionary was seriously
ill, and a great gloom settled all over north Formosa. There was
a little gleam of joy when the doctor in Tamsui advised him
finally to go to Hongkong and see a specialist. He went, leaving
many loving hearts waiting anxiously between hope and fear to
hear what the doctors would say. And prayers went up night and
day from those who loved him. From the heart-broken wife in the
lonely house on the bluff to the farthest-off convert on the
Ki-lai plain, every Christian on the island, even those in the
south Formosa mission, prayed that the useful life might be
But God had other and greater plans for Kai Bok-su. He came back
from Hongkong, and the first look at his pale face told the
dreaded truth. The shadow of death lay on it.
Those were heart-breaking days in north Formosa. From all sides
came such messages of devotion that it seemed as if the
passionate love of his followers must hold him back. But a
stronger love was calling him on. And one bright June day, in
1901, when the green mountainsides, the blue rivers, and the
waving rice-fields of Formosa lay smiling in the sun, Kai Bok-su
heard once more that call that had brought him so far from home.
Once more he obeyed, and he opened his eyes on a new glory
greater than any of which he had ever dreamed. The task had been
a hard one. The "big stone" had been stubborn, but it had been
broken, and not long after the noontide of his life the tired
worker was called home.
They laid his poor, worn body up on the hill above the river,
beside the bodies of the Christians he had loved so well. And the
soft Formosan grass grew over his grave, the winds roared about
it, and the river and the sea sang his requiem.
Gallant Kai Bok-su! As he rests up there on his wind-swept
height, there are hearts in the valleys and on the plains of his
beloved Formosa and in his far-off native land that are aching
for him. And sometimes to these last comes the question "Was it
well?" Was it well that he should wear out that splendid life in
such desperate toil among heathen that hated and reviled him? And
from every part of north Formosa, sounding on the wind, comes
many an answer.
Up from the damp rice-fields, where the farmer goes to and fro in
the gray dawn, arises a song:
I'm not ashamed to own my Lord,
Or to defend his cause.
Far away on the mountainside, the once savage mother draws her
little one to her and teaches him, not the old lesson of
bloodshed, but the older one of love and kindness, and together
they croon:
Jesus loves me, this I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
And up from scores of chapels dotting the land, comes the sound
of the old, old story of Jesus and his love, preached by native
Formosans, and from the thousand tongues of their congregations
soars upward the Psalm:
All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice!
These all unite in one great harmony, replying, "It is well!"
But is it well with the work? What of his Beautiful Island, now
that Kai Bok-su has left for a greater work in a more beautiful
land? Yes, it is well also with Formosa. The work goes on.
There are two thousand, one hundred members now in the four
organized congregations, and over fifty mission stations and
outstations. But better still there are in addition twenty-two
hundred who have forsaken their idols and are being trained to
become church-members. The Formosa Church out of its poverty
gives liberally too. In 1911 they contributed more than
thirty-five hundred dollars to Christian work. "Every year,"
writes Mr. Jack, "a special collection is taken by the Church for
the work among the Ami--the aborigines of the Ki-lai plain." This
is the foreign mission of the north Formosa Church.
A Hoa lately followed his pastor to the home above, but many
others remain. Mr. Gauld and his family are still there, in the
front of the battle, and with him is a fine corps of soldiers,
comprising fifty-nine native and several Canadian missionaries,
including the Rev. Dr. J. Y. Ferguson and his wife, the Rev.
Milton Jack and Mrs. Jack, the Rev. and Mrs. Duncan MacLeod, Miss
J. M. Kinney, Miss Hannah Connell, Miss Mabel G. Clazie, and Miss
Lily Adair. Miss Isabelle J. Elliott, a graduate nurse, and
deaconess, will join the staff shortly, and a few others will be
sent when secured, in order that the force may be sufficient to
evangelize the million people in north Formosa.
Mrs. Mackay and her two daughters, Helen and Mary, the latter
having married native preachers, Koa Kau and Tan He, are keeping
up the work that husband and father left. A new hospital is being
built under Dr. Ferguson, and plans are on foot for new school
and college buildings.
And the latest arrived missionary? What of him? Why his name is
George Mackay, and he has just sailed from Canada as the first
Mackay sailed forty-one years earlier. He has been nine years in
Canada and the United States, at school and college, and now with
his Canadian wife, has gone back to his native land. Yes, Kai
Bok-su's son has gone out to carry on his father's work, and
Formosa has welcomed him as no other missionary has been welcomed
since Kai Bok-su's day.
But these are not all. From far across the sea, in the land where
Kai Bok-su lived his boyhood days, comes a voice. It is the echo
from the hearts of other boys, who have read his noble life. And
their answer is, "We too will go out, as he went, and fight and

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