The Soldier of Fort George
When Luke Heywood was a soldier at Fort George the Fort was a very different place to what it is nowadays. Stretched along the shore just below the Fort were rows of stalls that served as a meat market for the soldiers and their families. The ferry-boat plied its course between the Fort and the Black Isle on the further side of the Firth.
Hector McPhail, Minister of the Church at Resolis on the Black Isle, waited for the ferry to arrive to carry him and his white pony back to the other side. Meanwhile, Luke Heywood, a soldier from the Fort, approached the market and stopped to buy some meat from the stall at which the Resolis Minister was waiting.
"How much for a quarter of mutton?" Luke asked the keeper of the stall. When told the price, the soldier cut loose with a string of oaths and blasphemies that cut through the air. He finished up by saying that he would sooner see his soul in hell than pay the price the butcher was asking. After some argument, however, the price was paid and the soldier turned away from the stall with his purchase.
"A fine day, soldier," said Mr McPhail, who was now determined that he must speak to this man.
"A fine day, sir," replied the soldier.
"That seems a fine bit of mutton you've got there."
"So it is, sir," said the soldier, "and cheap too."
""What did you give for it, may I ask?"
The man told the price.
"Oh, my friend, you have given more than that," said the Minister.
"No sir, I gave no more. There's the man I bought it from, and he can tell you what it cost."
"Pardon me, my friend" said the older man, "you have given your immortal soul for it! You prayed that God would damn your soul if you gave the very price that you have just named; and now you have given it, and what is to become of you?"
As Hector McPhail stepped onto the ferry, Luke Heywood made his way back to his army billet. The Minister's words were still ringing clear in his ears: "You have given your immortal soul for it, and now what is to become of you?" The words grew louder in Luke Heywood's mind until they drove him right out of the barracks and back to the water's edge again.
"Where is that man that spoke to me?" he asked the butcher. "Oh, you mean Mr McPhail," said the butcher; "he is the Minister at Resolis, and you will have to go far enough before you catch him, for he has crossed more than an hour ago."
But no distance would be too great for Luke Heywood at this particular time in his life, for those words had shown him that the had damned his soul indeed, and now, as the Minister had said, "What was to become of him?"
The words remained with him on what seemed to be an endless crossing on that small ferry-boat; and they didn't leave him over nine miles of bracken and moor that then separated him from the Minister's home at Resolis. It was a short distance to travel, however, for all the peace of mind that Luke Heywood received at the end.
For two whole days he stayed with the man who had awakened him out of his sleep of death, and as the way to peace with God and salvation for his soul was gradually explained to him, Luke Heywood saw that the God who would, indeed, have condemned his soul to hell, would now save his soul for heaven, if he would call upon His Name and see His forgiveness for his many sins.
No more would the barracks and the market at Fort George ring with the blasphemies of Luke Heywood. Christ had died that he might live, and live he did to the glory of Christ's Name.
"Soldier! You prayed that God might damn your soul … and now, what is to become of you?" But the God who heard his oaths and curses also heard his cry for forgiveness and salvation through Christ the Saviour.
The same God answers such cries this very day.
Learn more about Luke Heywood — click here