The Temperance Reformation
This story took place in the years when social drinking was a common thing even among many of the churches. However, many men of God were beginning to speak out against drinking and taking a stand against it from their pulpits.
One Sunday, the pastor, who was a supporter of the drink, announced that there would be town meeting the following night… the topic: The evils of intemperance in the use of alcoholic liquors.
Many showed up to see what would be said. Two men also came whom were strangers. One looked to be as a member of the clergy while the other was a tall broad chested man, white headed, with a face full of wrinkles. His eyes were black and restless.
One arm had been severed above his elbow and there was a wide scar above his right eye.
The clergy speaker made his appeal and when finished, the local pastor stood and attacked the position of this visitor stating they were nothing but meddlesome fanatics who wished to break up the time-honored usages of good society and injure the business of respectable men.
As the pastor took his seat, the large visiting man rose, and after a few awkward moments, proceeded to speak with a depth in his voice that riveted every one in that meeting with peculiar interest.
One man in particular had his attention fixed intently on this visitor moreso than any other in the building.
Than elder man began to speak:
I am an old man standing alone at the end of life’s journey. There is a deep sorrow in my heart and tears in my eyes. I am without friends, home or family, but it used to not be so.
I once had a loving mother who’s now in the grave that took special care to raise me the best she could…
I once had a loving wife, and precious little boy and baby girl with a beautiful home.
But that women’s bright blue eyes were dimmed, and that precious family was torn apart and crushed by the demon of the bottle.
I was a drunkard. I drug my family down with me into degradation and poverty. The family often went without food for days at a time as I followed that cursed life of strong drink.
One New Year night, I returned late to our wretched delapitated home where my wife was still up shivering over the few hot coals. I demanded food, but she burst into tears stating that there had not been food for a few days. Suddenly the baby girl burst forth in a wail for she was hungry. I could not take the noise and the saddened look of my wife, so I hit her to the earth. The furies of hell boiled inside me. Then taking her by the hair, I drug her to the door throwing her outside in the deep snow. I grabbed that baby girl and also threw her outside. But that wasn’t enough. I then turned to the little bed where lie my sleeping boy and snatched him from his covers also throwing him outside.
In an agony of fear, he called me by a name I am no longer fit to bear and locked his little fingers in my side pocket. I could not pull his hand free, so like the devil, I shut the door upon his arm and with my pocket knife severed the wrist.
The speaker paused for a moment and buried his face in his hand, his chest heaving like a fierce storm.
He then resumed his story. It was morning when I awoke. I first secured a drink of water and then looked for my wife. At first I could not understand where she had gone, but then like a murderous nightmare, my mind began to remember the happenings of the night before. I rushed to the door, opening it with shuddering dread. As the door opened, and show blew in, something else also fell in, striking the floor with a hard sharp sound. My blood shot like red-hot arrows through my viens… I had to turn away as the sight was too horrible to bear. It was my wife holding and cuddling my little baby girl, both frozen to death. I know not what happened to my little son.
Again, the old man bowed his head and wept, and all in the meeting wept with him.
He went on: I was arrested, and sentenced to prison for 10 years, but that confinement was nothing compared to the anguish I went through day after day, night after night.
Friends, I’m here tonight, no not as a fanatic, but to warn others to not enter into the path which has been so dark and fearful to me. Oh that I could see my wife and children again.
With that, he sat down. The other visitor then asked all those present to sign a pledge to never drink again. The one man in the crowd who had shown special attention to these two visitors and the old man in particular, jumped to his feet and raced over to grab the pen to sign the pledge.
The older man looked up and almost shouted… Sign it young man, sign it! Angels would sign it. I would write my name ten thousand times in blood if I could bring my loved ones back.
The man wrote his name: Mortimer Hudson.
The old man looked, wiped his tears and looked again catching his breath.
Pardon me young man, but… that is the name of my own brave boy.
The young man trembled and then held up his arm to show there was no hand.
The old man gasped.
My own injured boy
The young man cried
They fell upon each other till it seemed that their souls would grow and mingle into one.
There was much weeping in that place as two souls sought forgiveness and were reconciled back together.