Chapter Ten

In Chicago, the Moody Bible Institute still has the original application which William Mullen filled out seeking entrance to study for the ministry. He gave Dr. W. W. Case, pastor of the Church of the Stranger, 2026 Howard Street, San Francisco, as his reference, and said his only schooling had been three years at the Workhouse in Newcastle, England.

He gave his reason for wanting to enter the Institute that he wished to become a worker in bringing men and little children to Christ, that he had done personal work in the Crittenden Mission Army, and that, for six months, he had been thinking about entering Moody's. he wrote that he had a good profession that would supply his needs, and that his address was on Indiana Avenue and 22nd Street in Chicago.

Dr. Case responded to the queries of the Institute by saying he was "unselfish, teachable, not conceited, although he knows something and he knows that he knows it," that he had "more than average judgment, was a hard worker, firm in his convictions," and that "he has been a horse tamer and has succeeded wonderfully without whip or spur which shows he understands human nature. He has done good street work speaking for the Master, and is respected highly by those who know him." They also said, "He is an interesting speaker, above average considering his advantages. I am glad Mr. Mullen is to take a course in your Institute. If he were properly trained, I think he would be a poser in city mission work where nerve and tact and shrewd common sense are necessary to success. He has some elements of extraordinary efficiency and I know nothing against him. I hope you will take him and make a strong man of him."

The letter was dated November 20, 1894, but it was not until June of the following year that William Mullen was admitted to the Chicago Moody Bible Institute.

In the meantime, he had enrolled at a night school in Chicago, and in eleven months to the day he entered, he had his high school diploma. His instructors at the Institute were surprised to discover he knew the Bible verbatim. I don't believe he had heard by that time the term "photographic memory."

He studied with a zeal few men have because few men are so sure God is walking beside them. With him, God was as close as the horse's reins a rider holds. He knew, too, his days of preaching on the isolated trail and the faraway cattle ranches were over. He knew, now, he was ready for that larger audience in the cities of America's great Middle West, east or west. He began to think especially of the little children in the congested metropolitan areas, and he made up his mind he would prepare for the kind of work that could help them. Perhaps he was through with days of homelessness.

He also wanted to get married. In this larger plan he wanted a helpmate - a good, old-fashioned helpmate! He planned to talk to Dr. Torrey about that. Maybe he could give him a little coaching, but before he had a chance to approach the matter, he invited six girls to dine with him at the Morrison Hotel Oyster House one night.

When he returned the girls back after the front door of the Institute had been locked, Dr. Torrey was waiting in the lobby with a ready-made reprimand. The fatherly scolding turned into a night-long discussion during which William told him of his desire to be married.

"You seem to be in open contact with God in all other matters," Dr. Torrey observed. "Why don't you ask Him to help find you a wife?"

"I will," he agreed.

No one but God would have thought the quiet, gentle Annie would be content to put her future in the hands of the unpredictable, fearless William Mullen.

It was the McCarts who helped bring this about. They were staunch members of the Ninth Presbyterian Church on Ashland Avenue where Rev. E. P. Frothingham was the pastor. They also attended the Moody Church on North Clark Street, especially during the week. It was here the four Hepp sisters, close friends of the McCart family, became acquainted with William.

Mrs. McCart was the adult leader of the Christian Endeavor Society at the Presbyterian Church and used to love to invite the society members over for Sunday supper at her home. The four Hepp girls were always present on these occasions. The couple had a special interest in the girls since both their parents had been dead some five years and they had managed to hold themselves together as a family unit, keeping house in a seven-room flat which they rented, and working at downtown department stores.

Anna Hepp was best friend to the oldest of the two McCart daughters. At twenty-three, "Annie," as her sisters called her, was the buyer in books and stationery at Rothschild's, a large State Street store. Elizabeth, next oldest, was State Street's first model and worked at Mandel Brothers. Barbara was the billing clerk at the Boston Store, and Lena, the youngest, was the housekeeper for the parentless family.

Mrs. McCart was a dressmaker who sewed for all four girls who displayed a little more that the average young girl's interest in pretty clothes since they had no discerning parent to frown upon such frivolity.

Annie was the prim one and wore her expertly-made woolens with a trimness and neatness that gave Mrs. McCart a satisfaction her craftsmanship. Lizzie had a chicness that always brought forth admiration. She was a striking brunette with dark, flashing eyes, a mass of brown, wavy hair and an hour-glass figure. What's more, she had a born flair for wearing clothes that Mandel Brothers felt inclined to experiment with the new idea of selling clothes by using a live model to wear them for a customer's viewing.

"Oh Annie," Bernice McCart said when they were walking each other home after a Christian Endeavor meeting, "you just have to come to supper next Sunday and meet our new boarder, William Mullen. Mama's told him all about you, too. She even said you'd make him a good wife."

"Oh, Bernice! What did she say that for? Now I'll be too scared to come."

"Don't be a goose. Do you want to be an old maid? Besides, Mama says, now that he's going to be a minister, he'll just have to have a wife."

"Me married to a preacher! Anyhow, how do you know he'll like me?"

"Course he will. Mama says that opposites attract and you being so quiet, you'd suit him to a 'T'."

"Heavens, is he boisterous?"

"Loud! He's bedlam. Why he chases us all over the house. And he's so comical you'll just die laughing at him all the time, an' you ought to see him dance an Irish Jig or even a Hula! It's just not the same since he came to board with us. I'll sure hate to see him get married."

"Why don't you marry him yourself?"

"I told you, opposites attract. Besides, I'm not religious."

"How do you know I'll like him?"

"Oh, you will. He's quite handsome. He'd make three of you. And you should hear him talk. He rolls his 'rrs' and he's so interesting it doesn't matter what he says, you just listen anyway."

"Handsome?" Annie was thinking. "But he won't like me. I just know what will happen. We'll walk in all dressed up fit to kill and Bob'll josh him and he'll spend all his time talking to her, and looking at Liz out of the corner of his eye. He won't even notice me."

Sunday evening, Annie announced she wasn't going to Christian Endeavor "I have to iron a blouse," she made the excuse, "and mend my veil for tomorrow."

"Don't be a fool," Liz said. "You know you're just scared because Mrs. McCart made an engagement for you and that new Bible student."

"But you should take him, Liz," Annie protested.

"She should!" Bobbie protested with a guffaw. "She's already got too many beaux on the string now. I'm constantly in hot water trying to get her out of one pickle after another - letting one man out the back door and bringing another by the front, and if I tell anymore lies for her, I'll never get to heaven!"

"Oh, come on, Annie, be a sport," Liz said. "I', dying to see you in your new caniche wool dress. I want to see how those new sleeves are going to look, tight at the wrist and leg-of-mutton at the shoulder. They're the last word, you know. It'll sure show off your classy waist."


"Don't be silly. What's the use of having a good figure if you can't make the most of it. Want to wear my amethyst brooch?"

"Could I?"

When the girls arrived at the McCart home Sunday evening, Barbara rushed into the parlor to get first glimpse at the much-acclaimed new boarder from San Francisco.

"All's clear girls," she called out humorously. "He ain't toting a six-shooter."

Everyone laughed.

"You must be Barbara Hepp," he spoke, a cheerful smile breaking as he shook her hand warmly.

Mrs. McCart rushed in to handle the introductions of her favorite family, but William put out his hand, halting her. "Hold on, now," he cautioned. "Let me figurrre out the name of each one myself." And when he rolled his r's in his rich-fibered voice, there was no mistaking the fascination he held with women.

"It's happy I am to shake your hand," he said cordially to Barbara.

"And I like you, too." Bobbie agreed. "We've been holding our breath all week for the sight of you."

Lena stepped up insisting for some attention too. "Which one am I?"

"You're Lena, and what a pleasure, my young lady!"

"That one was easy," Barbara said. "She's so young you couldn't miss."

"I'm not, am I?"

He eyed Lena's pretty dress and it was easy to see she was trying hard to look like her older sisters.

"I should say you aren't, and I hear you can cook, too! Well, you know that's the way to a man's heart."

Then he took Elizabeth's hand.

Annie thought, "Here it comes! Liz will dazzle him so he'll never notice me!" she wished she hadn't come. Or, what was worse from the way Mrs. McCart had sung her praises, he might even mistake Liz for the one Mrs. McCart had picked out for him.

"And you are Liz," he said. "It's happy I am to know you, too."

But his eyes moved on and remained fastened on Annie. He took hold of both her hands, drawing her a little closer to him. She looked like a tiny child beside him, her head barely meeting his shoulders, her ninety pounds seemingly even less beside his more than two hundred pounds. "Annie," he said in a half-whisper. "You flower of the flock! You flower of the world!" He was really not saying it to her. It was more like telling it to himself.

"Now don't make that blarney so strong she won't even believe you," Barbara joked.

When Mrs. McCart saw he was instantly attracted to Annie, she said proudly, "This is William, Annie."

"I'm pleased to meet you, William," Annie responded with a little nervous attentiveness and yet with a shyness that William couldn't help but like. A little fearsome smile tried to hover around the corners of her mouth, but found it too difficult, so her eyes helped her out by softening bravely.

" 'Tis my happiness entirely," he told her. "I never thought I would meet one so lovely." He was appraising her carefully now, noticing first the beautiful, big, black yet soft eyes - eyes with the wide open innocence of a little child. He observed her lovely moist skin, on the olive tone but highly colored like the skin of the girls of the British Isle, or the skin of the fog-drenched San Francisco women. She reminded him of someone. Why his own Annie! And she was little and shy like his sister, and half-frightened by the world. He led her away from the group that huddled together in the parlor. He sensed she didn't like to be the cynosure of all eyes.

"If you'll excuse me for a second," Annie said quietly, "I want to take off my wraps. Then I'm going to help Mrs. McCart in the kitchen."

"And I, too." Bill added.

She didn't want him to think she was trying to run away from him so she explained, "I always do."

"So do I. You should see how handy I am in the kitchen," William bragged. "Ask Mrs. McCart."

"He certainly is," Mrs. McCart agreed. "Take off your things, Annie, and you can both help me. I've plenty of things to do. Enough for the three of us."

Mrs. McCart, a born matchmaker, was glad to get her couple off to themselves.

Annie went into the bedroom to take off her coat and gloves and little brimmed velvet hat with the perky ribbon trim. While she was in the bedroom, William picked up Mrs. McCart by the waist and swirled her in the air as though she were a whirligig.

"Let me down, William. Let go of me!" she screamed.

So he changed to dancing a little jig that shook the kitchen floor so the dishes rattled on the table.

"None of your jigging. It's Sunday, you know," she scolded.

"Sure the Lord's not blaming me for being merry. 'Tis love at first sight, an' well He knows it."

Bernice came into the kitchen to see what was going on. "Not so fast, William," she said. "You'll scare her away."

"She'll never get away now. Never!"

When the evening was over, William took all four girls home to their flat on 14th and Paulina. Then he went back to Mrs. McCart's and wrote a letter. There had been so many things he had wanted to tell Annie, but how could he with all her sisters listening to their every word. "I just must write her a letter and ask her to go to church with me tomorrow night," he concluded, "Then I'll have her alone an' I can tell her."

But it was difficult for him to write letters. "No, I will get up early and drive her over to her work," he said, throwing his written attempts in the waste paper basket.

"But what if she is already gone?" he asked himself. "I will write the letter," he again went back to the first plan.

He composed five or six letters, but none would say what he wanted to say. It was one thing to be so frank that you startled everyone, but a twinkle, a laugh helped to pass off, but to put it down on paper was another thing. Finally, he wrote simply:

Sunday night

Dear Annie:

What they say about God's goodness is true,

else why did he bring you to me?

I hope we can have an understanding.

I want to call at your home tomorrow night to

find out. If I don't see you before I go to work, will

you be ready when I come to take you to church?



The Hepp doorbell rang at six-thirty the next morning.

"Answer it Bobbie," Lena called from the kitchen, for her bedroom was nearest the front door.

"Holy cats!" she exclaimed. "Did you sleep on the front porch all night? Come in. Annie's out in the kitchen."

"Merciful heavens!" Annie shrieked, drawing her dressing gown about her and picking up the curling iron she was heating on the Acorn range.

She flew into the bedroom with William quickly following. She then ran into Liz' room and Elizabeth shouted, "Women's dressing room. Somebody better twirl a lariat around your cowboy's neck." Then she added sternly, "Get out of here," and she slammed the door.

William laughed at all the consternation he had caused. What fun it was to know a full family of girls with no parents to set up obstacles. It was made to order for his robustness.

Annie said, somewhat embarrassed, "Let's go in the dining room."

"Here's a letter I wrote you last night," he said, handing it to her.

She blushed, fumbled for words, then decided to say nothing. She read it, folded it carefully, and put it in her bosom. "Lena, will you bring us some coffee and kitchen?" she called in to the kitchen.

When they had finished the coffee he asked her, "Can I come tonight?"

She thought for a moment, looking intently at her coffee.. "Yes," she agreed.

"Good. Then you do understand me?"

She liked this confident way he had, his ruggedness, even his roughness. "Tell me, sweet girl," he said, "that you do understand me."

She thought he meant that she understood his being from the West, a cowboy and all that. She had never met a cowboy before. She hesitated. "Do you?" It was a coaxing voice.

"What is there to understand?" She asked simply.

"Why I want you to marry me," he said.

"Oh," she gasped.

He took her in his arms and kissed her. She was so surprised she offered no resistance.

"I'll take you to work," he said assuredly. Then he chuckled to himself, for the cart he used for exercising the horses before he went to school could only hold two people. The sisters would have to use the street car this morning and he would have his "caillin" to himself.

When she saw the naked cart, she shied away, too frightened to get in.

"Oh, I couldn't," she protested, trembling.

"Why you're shaking like a wet dog in a gunny sack, " he laughed, holding her firmly as he boosted her on the seat. "sure an' there's nothing to fear as long as you are by my side."

She felt that now and took hold of the iron-strong arm.

He could feel her body relax quickly as he make her unafraid. He gave the horses rein. They were anxious to get into a good trot. "Aisey now, aisey," he quieted them. "Don't frighten the poor darlin' to her death."

Once they were trotting smoothly, she saw what perfect control he had of the animals and the light vehicle and she knew she was in good hands.

She never truly accepted his proposal. But since he had confidence he would succeed in everything he undertook, he anticipated the same good fortune in love he had in other matters, and went ahead making plans for a wedding as soon as the school term would be over.

He had now completed two terms, but he was a long way from graduation, and Annie pointed this out to him. It was only an excuse, she wanted more time to think over the matter of marriage as well as more time to prepare to leave her sisters. They would have to hunt for a new and smaller home with their funds diminished by one paycheck.

"But you should finish your education," she argued. "You waited so long to get it, and now that you have the opportunity you should go ahead, you really should."

"Oh, that I can always do later. I can always go back and finish. I have a good profession. It will always support me in school."

"And a wife?" she asked.

He was ever an optimist, "Yes, and a wife."

Go to Chapter 11

Return to Table of Contents