Bobby, cold, damp, miserable, calling papers on the corner, stopped to listen to the song. The door of the church, opening to admit a newcomer, tempted the lad to venture in.
Bring them in, bring them in, Bring them in from the fields of sin; Bring them in, bring them in, Bring the wandering ones to Jesus.
The people of First Baptist Church sang.
"Say! I wonder if they mean it," thought the boy as he snuggled nearer the heater. "I wonder if they honest mean it. What they're sayin' in that song. 'Bout bringin' of 'em in. It's a fine place to be brought ter, and I'd mighty like to know who Jesus is. Say, I wonder if it could mean folk like dad. If they'd do anything to give him a lift?"
On they sang through the five verses. It was a cheery song for a rainy night, and the First Baptist Church people liked a hearty, simple refrain.
Bring them in, bring them in, All who are lost in the ways of sin; None too vile and none too frail, His healing power will never fail, Bring the helpless ones to Jesus.
"They'd never keep it up this long if they didn't mean if for sure," mused Bobby. "Seein' as the landlord's turned us out, and there ain't any place for him but jest the saloon, he might get to be a man ag'in if he'd half a chance, and a place like this here to get a start. Say, I'm goin' to give it a try."
And out of the door, into the cold, wet night, hurried the boy.
The benediction had been said, and the people of First Baptist Church were preparing to leave when the door was pushed open and a ragged, rain-soaked boy boldly entered, dragging after him the almost helpless figure of a man much the worse for liquor.
"What's this? What's this?" asked one of them severely. "Guess you've got into the wrong place, my boy."
Bobby took one quick look around the room, then shook his head decidedly, as he tried with his small strength to brace the wretched man by his side. "No. The place's all right, it's the same: but say, yer ain't agoin' away and closin' it up are yer, for I've brought him in, as yer said to."
"What is this? Brought who in?" It was the kindly voice of the pastor as he drew near the boy.
"All of yee, in singin' ye said to bring 'em in, and no 'count folks, who ain't done the straight thing. Anyhow, that's the way it sounded, and so I jest brought him along like yer said so that Jesus, as you said in the song, would fix him up. Ain't it straight, that there song," and the boy looked wistfully into the pastor's face which showed kindness.
"Tell us about it, my boy," said the man, gently, "Is he your father?"
"Yes, he is my dad, and some way he got on the wrong track. And Ma, she tried to set him right till she got tired and died. And then, sister Lizzie, she tried till she got hurt, and went to the hospital. Daddy wasn't hisself when he did it. And since then, I've been tryin', but 'taint no kinder use, and there ain't no place now for to stay ter get a start. And there ain't nobody that cares, and then l heard you folks singin' ter bring 'em in. Folks like him an' somebody what lives here would take 'em in hand. Jesus was the Name, wasn't it. Say, don't He live here?"
The stupid man the boy supported now dropped heavily on the floor.
"Tait no use, Bob," he said, "yer pa can't help it, nobody cares. Let's go back to Pete's and get nuther drink. That'll make it all right."
But the pastor's strong arm had lifted the man, and helped him to a pew. Then he turned to the silent, serious group about him. "Brothers and sisters, what do you think of the boy's questions? Doesn't Jesus live here, in this very place? It comes pretty near home, doesn't it? And if He did live here, what would He do just now, on this rainy, cold night with this poor, fallen father and his faithful son? Men, women, let's help Bobby save his poor father!"
Bobby and his father never went back to Pete's for another drink, neither that night nor the nights which followed. And their voices may be heard each week, as they mingle with other voices in sending out upon the street the invitation.
Bring them in, bring them in, Bring the wandering ones to Jesus.