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Conversion Of A High Priest Into A Christian Worker by Meletios Golden

CHAPTER II Arrival

Sunday morning the 16th of May, 1903, the very handsome S. S. Germania, cast anchor in the docks of Brooklyn. Indeed, there is no particular significance in a steamship arriving in the harbor of Brooklyn and New York, for they come by hundreds from all parts of the world, every day in the week and many of them every Sunday of the year. It is for the diligent observer that there are more lessons to be drawn from a day passed along the Brooklyn bridge than there are in the most exclusive circles of the 400. And if I am allowed to make any comparison at all I should put it in the following short sentences. The former lessons would be of a heart from which all arteries transport the necessary elements to keep up undiminished the vitality of this great cosmopolitan body, while the latter uncontrovertibly is only a part of the body, and unfortunately it is the stomach that consumes lavishly even to the core all that the whole body can produce. Yet to an every day passer-by neither when he travels across the Brooklyn bridge rubbing elbows with the scores of the masses of humanity that hasten their way unconsiderate by nobody, nor when in his big red or yellow automobile hurrying up Fifth Avenue he is planning in his mind a new scheme how to make more money, or he is the heir of riches untold and many millions are waiting for him to be scattered in all winds, his social standard to keep up and his neighbor's honor to bring down and as a rule to accomplish his own destruction, the time is of no value unless there is some profit in it for the only scope in his life is self gratification.

[Illustration: REV. M. GOLDEN In His Street Attire as High Priest]

The S. S. Germania in splendor and commodities could proudly be called the Mauretania or Lucetania of the Fabre Line, a very commendable company judging from the good officials and desirable attendants we had on board the Germania. Her arrival at the present voyage had exceptional significance, and if every S. S. which arrives this side of the ocean had parallel instances it would be only a matter of time when all the legislators which are engaged in making the emigration laws would find themselves out of business, because the Kingdom of God that knows no divisions and no distinctions of nations and races should soon be established to make a heaven on earth and there it would be one Lord -- one faith -- one baptism for all human races, and all men could then move in the different parts of the world without any credentials and they could be welcome everywhere as members of the same family do when they live within the boundaries of love.

Since the invention of Logos in the art of making history worth reading, through the ages the historian derives his intelligence from all sources apt to contribute to his object and unsparingly he treats zoology, botany and all kingdoms ending in some kind of y, just to serve his purpose successfully. And the writers of the Scriptures are not exempted to this rule, inspired as it were, they mentioned almost every known and unknown animal which our forefather Noah saved in his Ark, and if the ass plays so an important part in the Book of books, Germania surely is entitled to some consideration in the history of my conversion.

It will be impossible for me to even attempt to skiagraph all that took place on board the Germania from the time we left Naples of sunny Italy till we arrived in the docks of Brooklyn, eleven and one-half days' voyage with only a short stop at Gibraltar, that fortified rock for which Great Britain is ready to play all her power just to maintain that dry and ungraceful rock, but, the key of two seas, and in Azores Islands to exchange mail, our journey was a never to be forgotten continual holiday.

One odd incident that kept our merriment all these days, was the symptomatical number thirteen. The S. S. Germania was carrying on board several hundred emigrants, mostly from sunny Italy, they were representing all conditions and descriptions coming to America to make their fortune, which but a few exceptions is a sweet hope into every emigrant's heart and though often proves to them that it was only a dream, and there are millions of emigrants all over this land who after many years of hard work they are still struggling for a mere existence, yet they come and they shall continue to come for it is the rule of the universe; they simply cannot resist the law that governs and moves the Sympan. And the S. S. Germania was well occupied in its various compartments, but there were only ten of us voyagers in the reserved first cabins, and at meal time with the first Captain at the head of the table and one Commissioner representing the Government and the first physician of the boat then we made up the number 13; and though I am not a superstitious person I was the first one to call the attention to that fact, and there the fun began. The fellow voyagers insisting that should any danger of tempestuous and stormy gale threaten their safety they had to cast lots to know for whose cause the evil came, and as I was the only representative of the religious sentiment, in all probability I had to undergo the same experience as Jonah had, yet our fears did not even approach any realization but instead as it was desirable to all on board we enjoyed a very pleasant voyage all the way and the Captain himself unreservedly with his boyish cheerfulness expressed his gratification for all that came out so perfectly satisfactory. And the Captain being desirous to commemorate the agreeable event he gave the night before our arrival at Brooklyn a unique banquet in the big reception hall with various symbolical decorations in honor to his excellency the number 13. And to make the event more memorable the Captain himself went around the boat visiting all the emigrants and selecting 13 of the most musical Italian boys and girls with their harps, mandolins and tambourines, a perfect stringed band, and while our merriment was in its zenith he conducted them on the upper deck where the reception hall was located into the adjoining room and without warning we began to hear the waves vibrating through the walls into our hall and soon our ears were filled with divine melodies. They were playing Tosca, Puccini's most inspired composition and the translation of these people behind the walls it really contained that pathos which all artists agree, yet unable to explain how so many children of sunny Italy became world-wide famous for the embodiment of that musical and harmonious pathos of which Tosca is the favorite piece of the greatest living tenor Caruso.

In an unfortunate event that occurred to me some time ago I lost the names of my fellow voyagers on that memorable trip on the Germania, yet I can well recollect that there were two American newly-wedded couples from the western cities, just returning home from their extensive honeymoon trip abroad, and there was a gentleman, very refined and well cultured in literature whom we called, the Athenian, as he hailed from Boston, which in the language of all foreigners is the Athens of the United States, and there was the Jew merchant from Chicago, and another gentleman, an Italian professor, who was going to occupy an exalted position in one of the Roman Catholic Institutions in New Orleans, and to our delight there was Miss Maria, the only beloved daughter of Dr. Achilles Rose of New York. Dr. Rose is not only a very prominent practitioner as a physician in New York, but he is acknowledged as an eminent authority by the most exclusive Academies of Europe concerning medical matters, as well as a great linguist in the ancient and modern languages, and a number of publications contributed to the scientific research are the monuments of his convincing penmanship. His daughter had just finished a long course in the best college |Arsakeion| exclusive institution for girls in Athens, Greece; and she was well qualified to teach the Ancient and Modern Greek language as well as any professor in the American colleges and universities. I had to go carefully myself in order to keep pace with her in the exactness of pronunciation of the Greek words, and when listening to her telling some of the joyful experiences she experienced in learning this wonderful Greek language I felt like a Sunday school scholar impressed by her rhythmical and melodious harmony in pronouncing every word and sentence that sound like the old Greek music which even Apollo himself would be glad to listen to.

With Miss Maria Rose there was Miss Margaret, a tall slender figure with every characteristic of a genuine Kentucky girl, a very respectable maiden, she was caressing for Miss Maria Rose with motherly tenderness, she was the playmate and constant companion of Miss Maria now passing the bridge of her teens; yet Miss Margaret could not tolerate seeing her leaning on the rails of the Germania, she appeared presumably afraid that some terrible whale might swallow her little Maria whom she loved as much as a mother could love her own child, a pleasure which she never had, to know and to love a child of her own, and Maria appeared to appreciate the kindness of her governess.

Now to make up the list of the ten voyagers there was also your obedient servant, coming over to America to study religious, social and industrial conditions. An account of his reasons for taking this step shall be given later on. At this time I must proceed to complete my acquaintances on board the Germania. From the first day on board I find myself in very friendly terms with every one of my fellow voyagers, and before I knew it I was the father of them all. As a High Priest dressed in my church garbs, they just pasted in front of my name the monkish title, Father, which I never accustomed myself though my official church name consists of about a half a dozen titles.

The Captain of the Germania, a typical French gentleman very agreeable in all his ways, with my little French enabled me to make myself understood. I had the pleasure of passing many a moment in pleasant conversation with him, and when I wanted to speak to the Americans, my heart was longing to learn all I could from them, as they were so kind to me, and with Miss Maria's assistance I never went lonesome, her acting as interpreter between me and the Americans, for by that time I was not able to even pronounce correctly a sentence in the English language.

With all these acquaintances my time was well occupied and to my personal delight, by chance, I found my constant companion in the person of Dr. Lucretius, the first physician of the Germania, an Italian gentleman. By tokens and signs we found that both of us belong to that great body of men that knows each other as brothers in every corner of the inhabited world. It was he, Dr. Lucretius, who came to my cabin on the morning of the 16th of May, at about 5 a. m., and knocking at the door, said, Father Golden, we are now entering into the harbor of New York, and if you want to enjoy a grand view of the surrounding country you had better come out on the upper bridge. I shall be there waiting for you to explain some of the most beautiful sceneries that you have ever looked upon in your life. And he was correct, without any exaggeration, for when I leaped from my bed and dressed myself as fast as I could I went to meet my friend and brother, Dr. Lucretius.

Rushing up to the bridge I greeted him |Bonjorno, mio fratello| shaking his hand at the same time, almost I cried out, this certainly is an artificial imitation of the entrance to Bosphorus, and if it were not for that great statue and mausoleum of Liberty, which I could see ahead of me, I would surely believe that I was dreaming, it is like entering the harbor of Constantinople, and just at this point, looking into the face of my esteemed friend, Dr. Lucretius, I said to him; let us hope that the day is not far distant when we shall salute the God-giving Liberty in the heart of the great city of Constantinople. That was six years ago and every word I said it came out of my mouth as a prayer of my heart in all my sincerity. Today I do thank God for it is a reality. Turkey is free! But she is like a child; she needs the guidance of a strong hand to guide her in the path of righteousness and love to God and bring her to Christ who is the only one to give Liberty and Freedom |For whom He made free, is free indeed.| Turkey has accomplished the greatest part of her own salvation, yea, she has done more than many of the so-called Christian empires expected her to do. They are now rubbing their eyes, and of course it is their purpose in order to save their commercial interests, they are going to put in her way all the obstacles they can to overthrow the new Constitution, and if Turkey fails in her reformation this time, it would not be only her own fault. A great share of the responsibility rests upon the shoulders of every American man and woman who solemnly declares to stand by and be a protector of the principles laid down by Washington, the father not only of his own country, but most of the civilized world. Unless America arises equal to the occasion there is every reason to entertain all kinds of fears from the Middle and Western Europe's diplomats.

How many American active missionaries are there in Constantinople, Smyrna, Aidin, Saloniki, Adana, Ephesos and every city in Turkey today working for the regeneration of the people who dared and successfully broke down from his throne a Sultan? Wake up, my dear reader and gird yourself with the noble armor of your manhood and your womanhood and do the best, the very best of your ability to help the millions of mothers and children over in Turkey, they are starving for spiritual food, they are crying to you as your own brothers and sisters of the same family of humanity; will you close your ears and not listen to their cry? or will you open your heart, your sympathy and your pocket-book and send off all the missionaries you can to do the work? I pray that you will, and God will reward you in Heaven and down here He will keep the days of your life sweet in splendid memory that you have done your part in the salvation of all mankind.

The opportunity may occur again to discourse this very heart aching subject. Now, as we approach the colossus of Liberty, Miss Maria Rose made her morning appearance and before we all could exchange the |Bon Jour| salutations to her, she gracefully grasped the gentleman from Boston by the arm and walking up and down the bridge with soldierly step, began in an apparently joyful voice to sing, audibly |My Country 'tis of thee, sweet land of Liberty| and just as she was getting more enthusiastic in her song, the gentleman from Boston uttered a loud cry |Strawberries -- fresh strawberries,| and as by explosion a heartiest laughter went out of every mouth on the bridge, and the waves received on their wings that expression of our gratitude to carry it to the end of their destination, while the Germania drew us nearer and nearer to the land of the free and the home of the brave.

A call came to us all at this moment that the custom officers from New York were already in the reception room waiting for us to make our declarations in accordance with the customary law, and by the time I had complied with my duties, to that respect, I heard a stentorian voice |Cast Anchor| and turning around in a semi-circle, with center on my right toe I endeavored to unfold the meaning of the exciting motion. Sailors and officers of the boat rushing in all directions, it seemed as though they were preparing for a great battle, and determined to win. The big S. S. Germania was tied in the docks of Brooklyn and every voyager was ready to bid her farewell. The steward of my cabin, uncalled, he was on my side, and the thought came to me that it was his last chance for his gratuities from me anyway. He looked upon my face like a child expecting his Christmas presents, and said, with a fainting smile, Father, your trunk is on its way to your destination and here is your valise and I am awaiting your pleasure to direct you to the Sixth Avenue Elevated Station, which will take you to the 123rd Street and Seventh Avenue, Harlem, according to your wishes to reach your dwelling place. The bell of the Germania was ringing eight o'clock a. m., when I was bidding farewell to my steward with the instructions how to reach the Elevated Station, and turning to the first corner from the docks of Brooklyn, a familiar voice I heard behind me calling |Father,| and instantly a hand took hold of the sleeve of my garment, and looking backward I saw Miss Maria Rose with her governess, Margaret, and the gentleman from Boston, who was still holding my garment, and in good humor said, he, in his broken French, Now Father, we could not tolerate to see you go all alone in the streets of New York dressed in these robes, because if you only attract the curiosity of some mischievous children there is no telling what may happen to you, if they mistake you as a carnival dressed this way just for sport; but, Miss Maria Rose, hastened to aid, interrupting the gentleman, Father, you have good luck, today is Sunday and early in the morning you will be saved from great things which might happen to you otherwise. Besides we are going as far as 59th Street and the gentleman from Boston, he is going to take the train at 125th Street, Harlem, and there you will be within a few blocks from the house you desire to go to.

They bought the ticket for me and soon the Elevated was crossing the Brooklyn bridge. The grand panorama on both sides of the bridge brought the thought into my mind that if the architects of America were able to accomplish such a wonder as this, they would certainly have easier times to build the Babel Tower without any confusion of tongues; but my breath went out of my breast and for a moment I thought that the beating of my heart stopped, when we reached that curving at 110th Street and 8th Avenue, New York. The magnificent sight from that tremendous height, looking to my left at the mammoth advertising boards, the velvety green fields and at the top of the hill that Episcopal church, which will be when finished another architectural wonder, and looking to my right at the Central Park which we just swiftly passed, now I see the flat roofs of the buildings and on many of them the washing of the family hanging, forgotten perhaps, from last Saturday, it is indeed a grand sight which the inhabitants of New York in that section, by being accustomed to it, very little appreciate.

9.30, my friend from Boston, said, as we were descending the stairways on the 125th Street and 8th Avenue, as he looked at his time-piece. If it were not for my train which I must take at 9.58 I would gladly accompany you to your place, yet, said he, you only have two blocks to walk southward and one eastward and you will see the number on the left hand side, and with a cordial hand shake he jumped on the electric car passing at the moment on 125th Street towards New York-Boston R. R. station, to board his train, and I started on my way to the place where I was going to make my temporary home.

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