A Tin Roof For A Bed; The Blue Sky Quilt
( Originally Published 1902 )
AT the close of a mission service in London, the man having charge began to put out the lights and to close up for the night. He noticed a little fellow, bareheaded and barefooted, with face besmeared and with garments ragged, whom he told pleasantly to leave the room. The man went on with the rest of the work of closing, and when he was ready to put out the last light and turn the key, he saw the boy still there. In a louder voice and more peremptory manner, he ordered the urchin to go home. The little fellow answered plaintively: " I ain't got no home, and ain't got nowhere to go; and I'm awful hungry." The man thought he was putting up a story of need for the purpose of getting a few pennies out of him, but he invited the little fellow to go home with him, and gave him a good square meal. He asked the boy if he knew any others who were in the condition that he was in. The boy said: " Plenty of 'em." " Where?" he asked. The boy answered, " Jes' foller me, an' I'll take yer to 'em." At midnight they started, and going down some of the streets of the slum districts they came to a place that looked like a coal bin, and the boy, pointing to it, said : " There's lots of 'em there." Lighting a match, he looked in, but there was not one of them there. The little urchin said : " The cops 'uv scared 'em out, and I will find 'em fer you." With these words he climbed up the side of the brick wall to the roof of the building, and the man followed him, and there lay thirteen dirty-faced, ragged, fatherless, motherless, homeless, little fellows, huddled together like so many swine, with no bed under them but the tin roof, and no quilt over them but the blue sky. The little fellow started to wake the boys up, but the man prevented him from -doing so; and as he stood, looking at those boys asleep on the roof, God told him that henceforth it should be his life-work to provide homes for such little ones of His as those, and- Dr. Barnardo was obedient to the heavenly voice and organized that charity which has so blessed the waifs of London. And each night, in that great city, there are sheltered in Christian Homes five thousand motherless and fatherless boys and girls, who are saved from the weather and the greater peril of temptation to lives of usefulness and honor.
In all the cities of our country there are faithful men and women who hear the same voice that spoke to Dr. Barnardo, and are caring for the little waifs. There are others to whom God is speaking who do not listen to the call. It is difficult to conceive of a more beautiful charity than that of taking precious ones whose lives are virtually lost at the start, and saving them for humanity and heaven.