Kate Lee's local officers speak of her in relation to that particular section of the corps to which they were attached during her stay amongst them, and laugh as they recall how hard she worked them. The treasurers and secretaries tell of her cleverness in financial affairs. The sergeant-majors chuckle and still marvel over her capacity for work and getting others to work; the bandsmen are enthusiastic over her ability to manage them; the ward sergeants of her working of the ward system; the recruiting sergeants over her care for the converts; the publication sergeants over her interest in the papers and magazines; the young people's workers remember with gratitude her love for the coming Army.
But there is one work which all local officers and also the soldiers unite in recalling with wonder and warm appreciation -- her visitation. To get amongst the people in their homes, to share in their joys and sorrows, to understand something of their sins! This, Kate Lee believed was the key to their souls. Like the Apostles she visited 'from house to house.'
To make this possible, with the many other claims of her commands, her life was subjected to stern discipline and governed by method. She rose at seven, breakfasted at eight; an hour was devoted to prayer and study, an hour to business, and by ten o'clock, she and her lieutenant left the house to visit. It would have been a mutual pleasure for the officers to have gone together, but as one lieuteant tells us, 'The Adjutant said, |We must sacrifice our feelings, dear, in order to cover more ground.|' So both went separate ways, the lieutenant returning to the quarters at twelve o'clock to have dinner ready by one. After dinner, they set out again, visiting until six o'clock, and even then, visiting was not entirely ruled out. Whenever a call came or a need arose, Kate Lee responded and when wrestling for a soul she took no account of time.
Lieut.-Colonel Thomas says: --
Some years ago I visited Adjutant Lee's corps to conduct a campaign. We had just finished the Saturday night's meeting when a little woman pushing a perambulator with two children in it, ran into the hall, asking for the Adjutant. Her husband was at home in delirium tremens, threatening terrible things. The Adjutant went back with her, soothed the poor madman, got him to bed, and sat with him until the early morning. Soon afterwards that man was soundly converted, and is to-day an Army bandsman, while the elder child who was wheeled in the perambulator, is a corps cadet.
Stories abound of her early morning visits to pray with converts before they faced the world. To catch the factory hands at Reading she would be at their home by six o'clock. To earlier workers she has called as early as half-past five.
A ship-owner in Sunderland had read of the Angel Adjutant, and afterwards attended her meetings. He was not impressed by her conversational powers nor her platform gifts, and often questioned in his mind where the secret of her influence upon desperate characters could be. One Monday morning, he had cause to go to his office early, and tells how he met Adjutant Lee in the street. 'Out so early, and on a Monday morning, Adjutant?' he remarked pleasantly. 'I would have thought you needed rest after your heavy Sunday.' The Adjutant smiled, and hesitated. The gentleman continued, 'May I ask why are you out so early?' She replied, 'Well, last night we had two remarkable cases seeking Salvation, and when ungodly men are broken up and come to the penitent-form, that is only the commencement of the work. I have been down to these men's homes to pray with them and see them safely into the works.' Says this friend, 'Then I understood the secret of her power. It was the same love that took Christ to the Cross to save sinners, working in this woman to the same end. I no longer wondered at her success.'
Brigadier Southall, of Canada, relates an incident connected with a Sunday's meetings, which he conducted at one of the Adjutant's corps, which illustrates her midnight visitation.
Having heard something of her work, I looked forward to the day with anticipation. We had good crowds, and there were a few seekers at night, but no thrilling incident occurred during the day. However, after Sunday night's meeting a young man who had come to the penitent- form, hesitated about leaving the hall. When Adjutant Lee spoke to him, he told her he was afraid to go to his home, from which he had been absent some time. He confessed to having robbed his parents on two previous occasions, and his father had told him never to come back again. The Adjutant determined to accompany him home. Arriving there she knocked, and in reply a voice from an upstairs window inquired her business. She explained that she had come upon an important matter, to which the reply came that as the family had retired, would she not indicate her business without bringing them downstairs? She replied that she must speak with them quietly. She kept the young fellow out of sight when the door was opened a few inches.
By tactful moves, Kate Lee got into the hall, and told of the son's confession and his desire to live a new life. This produced a storm of protest. They could not trust him any more. The Adjutant pressed upon the mother the precious quality of forgiveness, and the necessity of exercising it if we would desire the love of God extended to us. She gained her way. At about two o'clock in the morning, the whole family professed to accept the mercy of God, and the erring boy was received again into the home.
One of the Adjutant's special visitations was to the police station on Saturday night. Her friends the police were glad to see her, and willingly allowed her to interview the detained prisoners, with whom she prayed and left a copy of 'The War Cry,' for Sunday's reading. At least one soul was led to God by this means.
'When she got her sleep, I do not know,' says a faithful armour-bearer at one corps.
From her various corps come stories of her sick visiting. Here, a child at the gates of death; there a bedridden old man, whose room she tidied and breakfast she prepared. Again, a drunken woman, whose body she nursed to health, while she brought her soul to the Great Physician. An outside friend tells that once entering a barber's shop he found the topic of conversation to be The Salvation Army, which was coming in for a drubbing. 'Wait a minute,' broke in a rough workman; 'You don't say a word against The Salvation Army while I'm about. This Adjutant Lee is a dear soul. We were in an awful hole at our place. Missis and the youngsters all ill at the same time, and this Adjutant heard about us; didn't know a thing of us except we were in need, and she came in and nursed them all well.'
For her soldiers who were in health, spiritually and physically, the Adjutant had little time to spare; none for tea-drinking and social calls. She expected her soldiers to practise self-denial as she did. One soldier, feeling rather deprived on this account said, 'Must I go on the booze to get a little of your attention?' Searching her face carefully, the Adjutant replied, 'You are all right, my dear; you must spare me for those who need me.'
She expected to be guided to souls who needed help, and was, as the following incident shows.
Two local officers moved, with their family, from a distant corps to London where they had undertaken heavy business responsibilities. The wife was tired and anxious, and felt that now they had slipped out of a corps where they had seemed indispensable, it would be better for them to remain undiscovered. She had, in fact, decided to withdraw from the fight. When visiting, the Adjutant stumbled upon them, muddled and tired, as they sat amongst their packing cases. Her radiant face and gracious spirit soon drew out of the little woman the confession she had meant to hide. 'When I came in,' says the husband, 'there was the Adjutant sitting on one of the boxes chatting so happily, she had mother feeling she was needed as much as ever, and simply must be in the fight. She came just at the right moment, and we have never looked back again; that is more than ten years ago.'
The Adjutant, in order to get about quickly, used a bicycle. One of her local officers says, 'She almost lived on her wheel, and when she heard of the motor attachment she wrote and asked me to inquire about one for her so that she might go faster.'
A comrade tells that when Kate Lee was stationed in the country, she went one day to see her, unexpectedly. 'I met her carrying a large basket, and on inquiry found that it contained the proverbial loaves and fishes, which she was taking to one of her converts who was out of work. She made sure that the family had their dinner, then started the husband off to sell the fish.'
Amongst the sinners in those terrible places, where respectable people and officers of the law are unsafe, the Adjutant's figure and face were most familiar. When after her death, Kate Lee's photo appeared in 'The War Cry,' the call came from many of these haunts, 'Get me that Angel's picture, we want it down here.' She won some of her gems in those quarters. From one locality she persuaded three women to go to one of our Homes and none returned to their evil ways.
Her visitation was often discouraging. A lieutenant tells that the Adjutant spent much time and effort upon a man and his wife who were very wicked and in wretched circumstances. They lived in apartments. The Adjutant visited them persistently, but they seemed to become more and more hardened in sin, and she did not have the joy of seeing them converted. She grieved much and was tempted to wonder whether the time spent had been wasted. One day she was asked to visit a man in the room next to that occupied by this couple. He told the Adjutant that he had looked forward to her visits next door, and always placed his ear near to the wall so as to hear her pray. Through her prayers he had sought and found salvation.
Dr. Carse, of Sunderland, says: --
I met Kate Lee in all kinds of houses, and at all hours of the day and of the night, and she was always on the one mission -- seeking souls. One morning, at half-past two, I was coming out of one of the worst slums in Sunderland, and met the Adjutant and her lieutenant. They were radiant. The Adjutant had gone to settle a family brawl; had reconciled husband and wife, got them converted, and broken their whisky bottles in the gutter. I met her also in the houses of the rich, and they would have kept her there, but she never stayed after she had finished her Master's business.
But Kate did not attempt to encompass the fruitful work of visitation merely with her lieutenant's assistance; she organized a band of visitors at her corps, generally godly, married women, who were timid of public service. They met at the hall one or two afternoons each week, and went two and two to certain districts. The Adjutant and her lieutenant initiated these comrades into the way of getting into the homes of the people. At an appointed hour they returned to the hall and reported any special case of sickness or sorrow to the officers, who followed it up. This method was a great feeder to the corps meetings, and provided an outlet for the awakened spiritual energies of some Salvationists who hitherto had been soldiers in name only.
She hungered for souls, she sought them everywhere. One morning, scanning the daily paper to see if there were some call for help in its pages, she noticed the case of a man awaiting trial for a serious offence. She remarked to her lieutenant, 'I must try to help that man.' Straightway she prayed, then wrote the governor of the jail asking permission to visit the prisoner. This was granted, but the Adjutant was not allowed to see him alone. She was conducted to a triple cage; a warder occupied one compartment; the prisoner another; Kate Lee the third. As she gazed at the man through the bars, to introduce herself to him, and so to establish friendly contact and to reach his soul, seemed impossible. She spoke to him for a considerable time and prayed, but the face before her was like a sphinx, and he did not answer a word. Kate Lee came away from the prison with a sad heart, feeling that she had accomplished nothing.
At the trial, the man was convicted and sentenced to fifteen years' imprisonment. The Adjutant continued to pray for the convict, and at last, to her great joy, she received a letter from him. The prisoner told her that on returning to his cell, he had thought over all she had said to him; not only had conviction of sin come to his soul, but hope. He had asked God to forgive the past and to give him a new heart. God had answered his prayer. Good conduct shortened the criminal's sentence, and Kate Lee saw him discharged, placed him in the care of The Army, and after a term at the Land Colony at Hadleigh, in Essex, he was restored to his friends. Until the end of her life, this man corresponded with the Adjutant, whom he always addressed as 'Dear Mother.'
If staying for a night at a house, the Adjutant endeavoured to leave some blessing behind her, and the Spirit of God, resting upon quite commonplace words and actions, made them beautiful and blessed to the receivers. One woman writes, 'She billeted with me when my husband and son were soldiering. It was such a cheer to have her presence in the home. She wrote in a book for me her name, and |Be true to the Flag.| I treasure this very much.'
In another and different kind of home where she was the guest for a night, the daughter of the house, a bright, talented girl, given up to worldliness, accompanied the Adjutant to her room to make sure that all her needs were supplied. They fell into conversation about spiritual matters and talked on till the small morning hours, then knelt in prayer, and the girl gave herself to God. 'She used to call to see us, but try as we would we could never persuade her to rest for even one hour in our home,' writes a girl from another home of comfort.
With her voice trembling with love and emotion, a woman soldier told me the following incident: --
When the Adjutant was stationed here, I was living away from home at service, but coming back for a holiday, I found my father ill, and stayed to nurse him. One evening I had a feeling I should bring the Adjutant to him. He was a man who went to no place of worship and made no profession of religion. I went to the officers' quarters, and the lieutenant said that the Adjutant had gone out of town for a meeting; she did not know what time she would return. The feeling that I must get her that night grew on me, and I walked about the streets until I saw her coming home. It was nearly midnight, and I caught sight of her face in the light of a street lamp. She looked like a ghost, so tired and white, and I shouldn't have had the heart to ask her to start out again, but for the strong feeling that had come to me. 'Certainly I will come,' she said brightly. Well, she came and talked to father, told him the way of Salvation, prayed with him, and he prayed, and she left him at peace with God, and happy. An hour after she had gone, he became unconscious and never regained his senses. He died that morning. Just caught his soul in the nick of time, she did. That's the big thing about Adjutant Lee that stands out for mother and me, but I couldn't begin to tell you all the little things she did. Aye, but she bothered about us, she did. I never knew the like.
The year that Kate Lee was born, the artist Dietrich gave to the world a picture, which, if not destined to become one of the immortals of religious art, has about it an irresistible charm for the ordinary eye. The Saviour stands with outstretched arms saying, 'Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden.' About Him are gathered people representing almost every condition of need and woe. The charm lies not so much in the central figure as in the adoring love of the sorrowing and the sick for the One who loves them; little children cuddle about His robe in utter contentment; a weary mother with babe at her breast, has brought her sick daughter; husband has carried a crippled wife; a woman 'that was lost' bends at the Saviour's feet in an agony of repentance; an aged, blind man is led by his daughter; a maniac, whose tortured soul looks out of haggard eyes, frames a prayer with clasped hands.
When in a remote city, I first saw a print of this picture, a line from James Russell Lowell -- 'His Throne is with the outcast and the weak' -- seemed its best title. But as I look at it to-day, all the sorrowful, needy people who have spoken to me of Kate Lee, seem to gather around that picture and I seem to hear the words, 'Aye, but He bothered about us,' and there comes to my heart a realization of the triumph of Jesus in this servant of His, who grew to be so like her Master. Surely the world is heart-sick for such souls great in compassion, self-forgetful, and triumphant in faith as was Kate Lee.