Six months of joyous service amongst the Welsh miners was cut short by a telegram announcing to the sisters the serious illness of Mrs. Lee. Taking the news to their Divisional Commander, they were instructed to Headquarters. It was found that the illness was due to shock. The income from investments of the little estate left by Mr. Lee had dwindled; it now had disappeared altogether.
Captain Lucy faced the matter with her usual practical decision. 'Mother, darling, there are two ways out. Either I must come home and work and care for you, or you must come with us. If Headquarters would agree to you accompanying us from corps to corps, would you be willing to break up the home and come?' By this time Mrs. Lee had become possessed by what is known amongst Salvationists as 'The Army Spirit.' She loved this wonderful Army which cared for, and sought and found the lost. She would not have her girls come out of the fight. 'I cannot preach, Lucy, but maybe there is some niche I could fill. I would like to come,' she said.
So it was arranged, and shortly the little household, was transferred to Norwich. How happy they were! Captain and Lieutenant Lee, busy from morn till night, week in and week out, seeking the souls of the people. The mother in the little quarters, sitting with her work-basket beside the window, giving a smile to passers-by, and welcoming her daughters as they came to meals, always bringing with them some new tale of joy, of sorrow, of fighting, of victory or defeat. The little mother truly found her niche. Soldiers and adherents came to reckon upon her gentle patient influence, and her |never-mind-me| spirit was a constant sermon. She could sympathize and she could pray, and she sewed unceasingly for the annual sales of work, making useful articles out of the smallest and oddest remnants. She found supreme happiness in her Army warfare.
While Captain Lucy shielded Lieutenant Kate, she also gave her a practical training.
At Norwich they saw a great work amongst the worst characters of the city; many drunkards were transformed by the grace of God. One of the number, a soldier of the corps to-day, sends his grateful tribute to Lieutenant Kate's persistence in holding up his tottering steps until they grew steady upon the heavenly way. The sisters had the joy of erecting a citadel in the Bull's Close.
At King's Lynn, visitation of the homes of the people was a specialty of their work.
It is to be regretted that neither Lucy nor Kate Lee kept a journal. They were too busy seeking the lost, and after finding them and rejoicing over them were too weary to record their experiences, interesting and profitable as they would have been for us to read about. Their official diaries furnish little more than entries of meetings conducted and other duties performed. The only preserved reminiscence of their work is found in an 'All the World' of 1895. Commissioner Duff, then editor of that journal, beguiled Captain Lucy into chatting about her work at King's Lynn covering three days, and used the conversation as an unconscious answer to the oft-repeated taunt thrown at our officers in those days 'Go and work.' The following are extracts: --
Friday. Back from London at five. So pleased to find lieutenant waiting for me on the platform, with a smile. Tea ready at home. While telling her about my London trip, the man brought my box. Paying him, he said, 'I always listen to your Open-Air on a Sunday; but I have one thing against you, you are so down on the drink.' My chance! So I let him have it straight for ten minutes, when he gave me a penny for the collection, shook hands, and went off.
On the way to 7 o'clock converts' meeting, took Mrs. -- -- to see doctor. She was nervous at going alone. New converts turned up well. Brother -- -- very bright. Soon after he got saved he painted his door to help to make his home nice, and the old women of the street came and smeared their dirty hands over it, to hear him swear. But the Lord kept him, and all the street believes in him to-day. And old Dad who cries when he talks, he feels so grateful to God for saving him.
When on our knees with our eyes shut, singing, Brother -- -- , two months saved, came over to me and said softly 'I'm afraid I'm slipping back, Captain.' Poor lad, his home is nearly unendurable. His mother said she would sooner see him dead than a Salvationist. We all prayed, sang, and I believed for him, and he got beautifully right. Read and explained Isaiah liv., 'No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper!' We all marched into the holiness meeting at 8 o'clock. Some glorious testimonies. Closed with united consecration at 9:15, and met bandsmen to appoint new bandmaster. I was not quite sure as to how they would take the appointment; but went in and got them all on their knees, took up the holiness meeting chorus, 'I'll be, Lord, I'll be what You want me to be,' and prayed. When on our feet again, I started off at once and got through without any hitch or word of dissent, finishing up most successfully. Praise God for this! Ran home to join the lieutenant and the treasurer and the secretary who were finishing the cartridges, [Footnote: Small envelopes in which Salvationists make their weekly gift for the maintenance of the work.] and we started on the books. Money well up this week; over thirty shillings to meet the gas bill. Hallelujah!
Saturday. Breakfast as usual, at eight, and prayers. Then we started our weekly clean-up. I take upstairs; lieutenant down. People have got to know that Saturday is our day home, and come to see us. Had good spell of work. Then a poor woman and her daughter in great distress called; advised that they should go to law, and make the child's father support it. They are doing this. When I went with them to see the solicitor, he seemed to think they would succeed. Talked matter over with them, then had to leave lieutenant to finish with them, as Bandsman -- -- came. Misunderstanding with comrade. Hot-tempered; feels he has disgraced himself; better give in instrument. Long talk with him. Showed him his duty was to admit his wrong, and ask forgiveness. At last willing to do so; prayed the Lord's help and grace; took back instrument and went off happy. Dinner ready, then off to funeral, fixed for 2:30. Dear little Nellie! Glad I was able to be with her the last night. Had run in for a minute from open-air. Stayed till 5:30 in the morning. She was all night dying. Mother too overcome to be able to be with her. It was Nellie's wish I should bury her. Band turned up; nice meeting at house, then marched to the cemetery; hundreds there. All assembled in chapel; I in pulpit. A child's funeral seems a marvellous opportunity. Many in tears. Lord, make the impression lasting! Thankful I got quiet time in the train yesterday to prepare for Sunday. I've had no time since.
Before open-air went to see Mrs. -- -- . Saturday is a specially trying day. Husband drinks heavily. So cruel to her. Found her very depressed. Tries to keep her home nice, but he makes it very hard. 'Been wondering to-day if God does hear my prayer. My husband only seems to get worse; the devil has been tempting me all day to give up.' Read to her promise in Isaiah li., 'I am He that comforteth you.' Seemed too depressed to grasp it. 'It is for you' I said, and took her hand. Got down on my knees and prayed. She began to cry. 'I've been doubting and despairing all day,' she said; 'but if He'll forgive me, I will trust my Saviour.' Bless her. Hurried on; just in time for open-air. Very good meeting inside. All going on well, except -- -- . What can we do for him? Cost us more tears, and time, and prayers than all the rest put together. He seemed so satisfactory, then he backslid and came into the meeting drunk. Lieutenant could not let him go back. Brought him from the saloon, and now there he is in the back seat, all rags and misery. Too drunk to do anything but cry. He has lost the place we got him. Pawned his things. People laugh at us for our attempts; but we can't give him up. That lost sheep, 'until He findeth it,' is my watchword for him.
Sunday. Nice number at knee-drill. On march from open-air, great excitement. The cry was raised in one of the narrow streets, 'Runaway horse!' I was terrified for the children, but the lads made a line across the street, and the color-sergeant put the pole of the flag crosswise, barring the way; so we stopped the horse, and no one was hurt. A helpful time, I think, in the holiness meeting. Read from Exodus xxxv., showing how the people listened and obeyed God's word. After the meeting, saw the soldiers, who were on outpost duty, going off in the best of spirits. Stopped to speak to Sister -- -- who is anxious about her son. Got home at one o'clock. Before dinner was finished some one came to fetch us, from the next street, to see a man who was dying, and who, in his delirium, was screaming for the captain. Found him in a dreadful state. At first I tried to soothe him. Soon I saw that he must speak. He had sat for years in the meetings, knowing what he ought to do, and never doing it. 'You've pleaded with me so often, and others have too,' he began, 'and I've always put off deciding. I have asked God to forgive me. Will you forgive me, too?' Prayed with him, and left him quieter. Went on to the hall in time for the Junior meeting. Most touching time. The children knew and loved little Nellie. When after the Company Lesson, [Footnote: Sunday School Bible Lesson.] I spoke to them of her beautiful life, they all cried, and we had a little dedication meeting, giving ourselves to God to live like Nellie, and claiming His power for help. Afternoon free-and-easy. Hall just on full, but could not keep the meeting on as we had the memorial service.
A funeral march is a sermon in itself. The indoor meeting was very solemn. Lieutenant read. She is coming on well. What a comfort she is to me. I don't know how I should have got on here if we had not been so united. She is devotion itself.
The Lord gave us four souls. Two of them, unsaved relations of Nellie's. It seemed the seal of Heaven upon her beautiful life. Oh! there is nothing like seeing souls saved! Said to lieutenant, as we crept home -- and we feel we may have the luxury of being tired out on a Sunday night -- that next to being an angel, there is no position in the world like being a field captain.
After King's Lynn, Captain and Lieutenant Lee were appointed to Great Yarmouth. Here, an illness broke up the little household. During an epidemic of influenza, Kate was laid low, and before she had recovered, Lucy became ill. But the Chief of the Staff [Footnote: Now General Bramwell Booth.] was coming to Yarmouth; that was to be a great event. Lucy had taken the Drill Hall for the occasion, and would not rest until she had completed the arrangements for the campaign. The Chief had stirring meetings, with great crowds and many converts, but the captain lay at the quarters struggling with pneumonia. To this day Lucy cherishes the memory of The General's visit to her bedside, where he commended her valiant service and prayed that she would be spared to the War. After her mother had nursed her through the illness she remained delicate, and in order to relieve her from open-air duties and assist in re-establishing her health, Headquarters appointed the captain to office work. The small family did not reunite, Mrs. Lee remaining with Lucy, until years later she was promoted to glory.
This break was the Lord's way of thrusting Kate forth to take responsibilities of her own. Her health was now fairly robust, and her experience of life much broader. Promoted to the rank of captain, she went to take charge of her first corps, and we have fortunately her own account of her reception. Some years before her promotion to glory, during a rather long period of sick furlough, the General wished Kate to prepare reminiscences of her field experience. To speak of herself or her work, was ever the most difficult of orders for Kate to obey, but she meant to try. Amongst her papers was found a single sheet on which she had written headings for a series of reminiscences. A further hunt discovered two sketches which she had intended for publication anonymously. One of these is here given in full:
THE WRONG CLOTHES.
The captain was going to take charge of her first corps, and as the train sped along her heart beat faster as each stop brought her nearer her destination. Would anyone be there to meet her? What was the town like? And the people? Above everything else, what about the lieutenant? These were the thoughts that came racing through her brain as the train dashed along.
The train slowed down. A porter's voice announced the station, and she looked but of the window for a Salvation welcome, but no friendly face was there. Leaving her baggage, except for her handbag, at the station, she trudged off to find the quarters. There was no welcome there. After securing the key from a neighbour she entered the dwelling. Fortunately, there was sufficient tea in the caddy to make the longed-for cup, and with the lunch that had been forgotten on the exciting journey, she refreshed herself. There was no letter; no news of the lieutenant, and the indifferent neighbour could only say that she had been asked to hold the key until the new captain arrived.
The time for the meeting drew near, but no Salvationist called, and a feeling of strangeness and loneliness came upon the captain. Falling on her knees, she called upon God to help her. The realization of His Presence, the prospect of having a little corps of her very own, enabled her to smile at her fears, and to sally forth to seek The Army hall. At last it was discovered. Such a tiny place! A small burying ground surrounded it, giving it a dismal appearance. The door was closed, so the captain went and inquired for the key, and was informed that the hall would be opened in time for the meeting. After waiting for some time, a girl appeared, and, in a sullen way, opened the door. 'If only the lieutenant were here,' the captain thought. By 8:30 two lads and a few children had mustered. Her first meeting in her own corps was one of the most difficult she had conducted. There was a strange something, a mysterious atmosphere which she could not understand.
The last train did not bring the lieutenant, and the captain, committing herself to God, decided she must make the best of the circumstances. She had no desire for supper and went to bed. Awakened next morning by a stream of beautiful sunshine, she realized where she was, and the dreariness and coldness of the past night's experiences returned. 'If only the lieutenant were here,' again she sighed. 'If -- but this will not do,' she cried aloud, 'I must not let the first little struggle discourage me. Perhaps I was cold and tired last night, and perhaps the people did not really expect me -- or perhaps -- ! Anyway, I am going to do my very best for God and souls here.' Looking up to her Heavenly Father, she sought strength for the day. She made a scanty breakfast, then set about, righting the quarters. Her box had arrived, and from it she took her knick-knacks; a few cheery texts for the wall, and her beloved books, helped to make the place look homelike. Then she scanned the visitation book, making a plan for the afternoon.
That first visitation was a trying experience. 'How strange and cold these people seem to be!' There was no answer to her knock from two or three houses. Everybody appeared to be out. At the next house she was sure she heard a sound that indicated that some one was at home, so she knocked with a determination that secured an answer. An upstairs window was thrown open. 'What do you want?' snarled an angry voice. 'Does Mrs. S -- -- live here?' 'Yes, what do you want with her?' 'I'm the new captain, and I've come to see her, is she at home?' 'I'm Mrs. S -- -- , but I'm too busy to come down. Good-day!' The captain turned away, sick at heart, but determined to have another fry. Still, that afternoon was a very disappointing one, and she brought it to a finish with another visit to the station to inquire if there was a likely train that might bring the lieutenant. At night she went alone again to the hall, opened the door, but waited in vain for even the sullen girl and the little children.
On returning to the quarters, she found a letter awaiting her from the Divisional Commander regretting that the lieutenant was ill, and could not join her for at least a month. 'A month alone in this cold atmosphere!' It seemed an endless age to anticipate, but now she faced the worst, and was determined to fight through to victory.
Saturday night found her at the open-air stand, waiting and hoping that some one would turn up, when to her relief, she espied a brass instrument glistening in the distance, and she rejoiced to greet her first bandsman. He approached in an indifferent way, but she was becoming more used to the 'cold climate.' When other bandsmen appeared she felt that, in spite of the stiffness, she loved her corps already. She would have been quite happy had the lieutenant been there, but to walk in front of that band without the satisfaction of knowing there was one sister in the rear, was a trial.
She put her best into the meetings; gave the address that had been prepared with tears and care, but her words seemed to fall flat. The prayer-meeting was hard and no souls came to the mercy-seat. At the end of that first week-end, she exclaimed to a local officer her surprise that no sisters attended the open-air meetings, and that everybody seemed strange. 'Oh, so you don't understand?' he said. 'You have got on the wrong clothes!' 'What do you mean?' the captain inquired. 'Well, we are all disappointed. We wanted men officers. You have got on the wrong clothes.' The captain did not reply, but determined that she would make those soldiers want her before she concluded her stay amongst them. She had a difficult task, the people were clannish, and their prejudice was not easily overcome.
Her first move was to arrange a social cup of tea. She prepared a dainty little spread, although the funds were low, for she did the baking herself. Every soldier was invited personally, and she felt rewarded when twenty-five out of her fifty soldiers responded. The little venture seemed to break the ice, and this first sign of success was followed by a tea for sisters only, and the disappointed sisters became quite reconciled to their girl captain.
The long month at last came to an end. With great happiness the captain welcomed her lieutenant. A bright fire was in the grate, the kettle singing on the hob, as over their first cup of tea they rejoiced that love had conquered. In the lieutenant's welcome meeting, the break came, when a number of soldiers reconsecrated themselves to God. On the following Sunday night, the address was cut short by a woman rushing to the penitent-form, followed by several others. The soldiers were stirred, and the fires of love and enthusiasm burnt up the smallness and prejudice. Their cup ran over when they saw a poor drunkard of their town changed by the power of God.
Prejudice is a difficult thing to overcome. It starves the soul and withholds the blessing of God; but the fire of love can overcome it and enable one to triumph even over the ban of 'wrong clothes.'
After commanding three corps, giving to the people of each town her best service, a sharp attack of pneumonia carried Captain Lee away from corps work, and for a time it seemed that a constitutional bronchial weakness, now aggravated, would bring her regular public work to an early termination.
A term in the Naval and Military Department at Headquarters in London introduced Kate to a new sphere of Army service. Hitherto, her vision of the Salvation battlefield had been limited to the particular corps at which she soldiered or commanded, but contact with men who went to the ends of the earth and found The Army at almost every port, blessing them in soul and body, lifted her horizon until it became world-wide. Kate Lee began to realize the greatness of the organization to which she belonged.
A breakdown in the Naval and Military Home at Chatham placed Captain Kate in charge of that institution, with full responsibility for the catering, house-keeping, and meetings, and the visitation of ships in the harbour. A sister Salvationist writes: --
When first I saw her at the Naval and Military Home, I was impressed by her innocence, youth, and fragile appearance. For such a girl to bear the responsibility of so large an institution, was a marvel in my eyes. With one or two other comrades I used to accompany her to the ships in the Medway, to sing to the men. When a good crowd had gathered on the deck, Captain Kate would speak to them and invite them to come to The Army Home when they were ashore. The Home was packed out. She conducted bright meetings, and many soldiers and sailors were converted. Despite her youth, the men looked to her as an elder sister; gave into her keeping their bank-books and money, and sought her advice in their difficulties. So greatly did the Home succeed during the captain's stay, that she had the pleasure of seeking for a site on which now stands the Home which does such excellent service in Chatham to-day.
With health fully restored, the call of the field was insistent, and Captain Lee begged to be allowed to take a corps again. She was appointed to Whitstable, Kent, and for the next fourteen years she poured out her life as a ceaseless offering for the souls of the people in town and city, in various parts of the United Kingdom.