My sin is ever before me.
Honor thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth to thee.
Whoso curseth his father and mother, let him die the death.
So the Lord was entreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel.
Thou hast magnified Thy word above all Thy name.
Yesterday was my birthday and I had the girls here to tea. We had a great deal of fun, and some things that were improving. For instance, we read over our verses and talked about them. The way we happened to do that, was because Namie said she thought they were easy, this time. We asked her what she meant, and she said why, they kind of had nothing to do with us girls. We laughed at her a little. Prissy said we must remember that people who gave Namie an easy time were those who had nothing to do with her, but of course she did not mean that. Then we got to talking over the verses, and making Namie prove why they had nothing to do with us.
She said the first one was for dreadfully wicked people — murderers, and thieves, and such. That their consciences troubled them all the time. And the third one was for very wicked people too. Who but a person who was fearfully wicked would think of cursing his father and mother? Then the fourth was about a plague, and we didn't have plagues in this country; and the last one couldn't be practiced, it was just a fact.
Then Ruth said, "Why, you have skipped the one that speaks right to us — 'Honor thy father and mother.'"
No, Namie said, she hadn't skipped it; but it was easy enough to do, for girls who had such fathers and mothers as we had. Of course we would honor them. We never thought of doing anything else. For her part, she thought her mother the best woman in the world. But I told her that that couldn't be, for it would not be possible for her to be better than my mother. Then we all got to laughing, and were real gay over it. I didn't say much, but after all, I didn't quite agree with Namie about some things. I know my conscience has spoken pretty loudly to me sometimes, and wouldn't let me study or sleep, because I had done something wrong; and I hadn't stolen anything, or murdered anybody, either; but such things are hard to explain, so I didn't try.
It was after supper that I meant to tell about. We had a real splendid supper. Mother did everything that she could to make the table look lovely.
The girls said how lovely everything was, and Namie spoke of the verse again, and said it was easy enough for us to honor our mothers, she was sure, when they took such trouble for us.
Then we went out for a walk. We were going to the lake for a row, but Ben didn't come in time, so we went down town instead. We walked away out to the long bridge, and rested awhile, until it began to grow dark. When we came down Duane street, the lamps were lighted. By that time we were getting pretty tired. I don't know how it is that girls most always get so kind of wild and reckless when they are tired, but we do. Ruth said we better turn to Main street, for the west end of Duane street was always dark, and she did not like to walk there. So we came up Main, laughing and talking. We stopped at the post office, for Prissy expected a letter by the last mail. It wasn't quite distributed, and we had to wait. The office was pretty full. I never like to wait there, but Prissy said, "Oh, do! There are four of us." Charlie Porter was there, and he is the worst tease in town. He came over to us, and began to bother. He wanted to see the letter in my hand; it was nothing but a circular that I found in my pocket, and might have shown it to him as well as not, only it was no concern of his, and I thought I wouldn't. Then he snatched at it, and I snatched back, and in doing that I accidentally knocked his hat off; then he caught my sleeve and said, "Halloo! bring back that stolen property." I don't know how it was, but we got in a real frolic right there in the crowd. Ruth came to her senses first, and said, "Do come on, girls;" so after all, we didn't get the mail.
“Mother doesn't like us to wait in the post-office in the evening," Ruth said, as soon as we were out. “I'm sorry we waited at all."
I never heard my mother say anything about it, because I don't go to the office, Ben does that. But I knew as well as anything that she wouldn't have liked it. I should have thought that we would have sobered down after that, but Prissy was in a real frolic.
“Let's have some fun," she said. "Let's go into the drug store here, and get some soda."
She has a cousin who is clerk in the store, and we sometimes go there. Ruth held back, but Prissy coaxed and said she had twenty cents to spend as she liked, and it was burning a hole in her pocket, and she was dreadfully thirsty. So at last we went. There were a good many people there; among them a young man who used to board at Prissy's. He came over where we were and began to frolic with us, and we talked and laughed, and had just the gayest time! I didn't think how late it was getting and none of us did, until just as we were going out. Dick — that is the young man — asked us to wait a minute; that he had a package he wanted Prissy to take to her brother. We stood in the door and waited, and we were laughing then, over some of the funny things Dick had said; but we heard a man in the back part of the store say:
" Who are those girls?"
His voice sounded real gruff. I turned around and looked at him, but I didn't know him. The clerk answered: "Oh, they are some of our townspeople."
"Well, they must have queer mothers !" This was what the gruff voice said next, and I tell you we girls were still enough. We looked at one another and wondered if he could possibly mean us, and we didn't speak a word.
He did, though. "I have been watching them," he said; "I never saw properly brought up girls act so badly on the street. They have been in the post office, talking loud, and shouting with laughter, and romping with a young fellow there; and now they are doing the same thing here. It isn't possible that they have been properly taught, or they would not behave like that on the street. If they have respectable mothers they ought to know that their daughters are disgracing them."
Only think of it! O, Journal, if you could think, sometimes it would be a great comfort to me! We stood still and looked at one another. Our cheeks were as red as blush roses; mine burned like fire, away out to my ears. Dick hadn't come back yet, so we couldn't rush out as we felt like doing.
"He can't mean us?" Prissy whispered, and her teeth chattered.
"Yes, he does mean us," said Namie. "Mean old fellow that he is. Our mothers, indeed! Only think of it!"
Someway that seemed to make every one of us think of the verse that we had decided was so easy, I looked at Ruth and she looked at me. “Honor thy father and"— I said, and then stopped.
"Yes," exclaimed Ruth, "I should think as much!" Then she walked right across that drug store like a queen and marched up to the man.
"I want to tell you, sir," she said respectfully, "that you are mistaken. We have good mothers, who have taught us how to act. We just got into a frolic and forgot; but you need not blame them, sir, not one bit, for they would be as sorry as you are."
Then she walked away before that astonished man could say a word. We all marched out the next minute, and we all talked at once when we reached the street. We said that was a horrid old man, and he ought to be ashamed of himself, and we were glad Ruth told him the truth. But at last Ruth said:
“Girls, he told the truth, too; we did disgrace our mothers. They wouldn't have liked the way we have acted ever since we started out."
Well, we went home, every one of us. And we all told our mothers every bit about it. We said we would. Mine cried a little, and said she was shocked and sorry. But she kissed me and said she was glad I had told her. And she promised to expect me to honor her after this. I guess I shall be more careful than I have been. I don't believe there is a verse in the Bible but what fits us girls.
Come back on January 28 for Chapter Nine!