Love is the fulfilling of the law.
Death is swallowed up in victory.
Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
God loveth a cheerful giver.
I think it is just dreadful, anyway, that folks all know such a little bit about themselves, and about the way they are going to act. We had a real mean time at the Society this afternoon, and it was all my fault, and it was at our house, too. It is the B.R.N. Society; we can’t read the Bible all the time, and we like to be together, so we planned to sew things that would help people. Ruth thought of it; she said that the name “B.R.N.” would fit us, because it would not do people any good to read the Bible unless the practiced it, and to make things for poor folks would be practicing.
Then Prissy, who always wants to know all about everything, asked where in the Bible it told us to sew for folks? And Ruth said that the verse we all recited in school the day before told it. The verse was: "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might." Ruth said she was sure that our hands had found this sewing to do. We laughed at her a little for always finding a verse in the Bible to prove that her way was right; but she does know more about the Bible than any of the rest of us do.
Well, we went to work, hemming aprons for the little Scanlon children. For we still keep thinking about them. It seems as though they never would get put in order. Their father keeps his pledge, and he works real hard; but there is such a large family, and everything was so ragged and dirty, and the furniture all gone. Mother says if they were all started new with furniture and clothes and everything, it would take as much as the father could earn to keep them in food and clothes.
So we girls are going to try to help them get started new; our mothers gave us some nice pretty calico, and Prissy's mother cut out ever so many aprons — nice large ones which cover people all up; why, they are just like little Gabrielle dresses, only they have no lining, and they can be put on over another dress ; my mother sewed the long seams on the machine, and fixed the hems, and we were all at work this afternoon as nice as could be, and we were talking about that little Gertie Scanlon. She is lame and cannot walk a step, and she is a real sweet-looking little girl and doesn't have any pleasures. We all said we felt sorry for her, and wished we could do something extra for her. Then Namie squealed right out: "O Gertrude Morrison, I know something perfectly splendid! You can give her your little carriage; she would just fit into it real nicely, and her little brother Dick is real good to her; he could take her out riding every day. Wouldn't that be nice! She is your namesake, too, so it happens all right."
Now my carriage is the cunningest little thing! I used to have it when I was small, and it is cushioned with red leather, and has curtains, and is just a beauty. Of course I can't ride in it anymore, but I keep it to play with when little children come to see us, and I have great fun taking the dolls out to ride, and well—I think everything of it. I felt just as mad at Namie as I could, and my face grew red, and I spoke right out:
"Oh, indeed, Miss Namie Chester! It is very easy for you to find things for other folks to give. Why wouldn't it be splendid for you to give her your great doll that came from Paris? I would thank you to pick out your own gifts and let mine alone!" Was there ever anything so hateful? I don't know what made me talk so, unless it was because I knew I ought to give that carriage away, and felt as though I couldn’t, and tried to get away from it by being angry and talking loud.
The girls all looked astonished, and Ruth told Namie that she ought not to meddle, and then Namie cried and said she was sure she did not know she was doing any harm; that if the carriage were hers, she would give it in a minute. That made me feel more angry than before, and I told her it was easy enough for persons to tell what they would do, but I thought, for my part, it would be better to do some of it. Just then mother came into the room, and I said:
"Mother, what do you think Namie Chester wants me to do? Give my little red-cushioned carriage to Gertie Scanlon. Do you think I had better?”
Now I thought I was pretty sure that mother would not be willing to have me give it away, and if I had said so in the first place instead of getting angry, there wouldn't have been any fuss. Mother spoke real quietly, as she always does, and said: "No, Gertrude ; I don't think so."
I turned to Namie with a nod of triumph, and never minded that she was crying, and feeling dreadfully; I began to say: "There, Namie Chester, you see you don't know everything, and" —
And just then mother finished her sentence: "I don't think it would be a very acceptable gift, for 'The Lord loveth a cheerful giver.'” Then she walked out of the room.
I felt hot all over, and so ashamed that I wished I could slip down, out of sight. It was only yesterday that I had been telling the girls I thought that verse was easy enough to follow, for I liked to give things; there was nothing I enjoyed better. And I truly did not know until this afternoon that I only liked to give away the things which I did not want myself.
Friday. — I gave the carriage to Gertie Scanton, and I did it real cheerfully, too. At first, mother said I couldn't; and then I can't begin to tell how I wanted to. It seemed to me that I could never be happy again, if I could not do it.
One night mother came up to my room and talked with me. She wanted to know what made me so anxious now, when I was unwilling before. I told her I truly thought it was because I had seen how selfish I was to want to keep that carriage for dolls, when it was large enough for poor little Gertie to take rides in. Then mother asked me if I had asked Namie Chester to forgive me.
I said no, ma'am, I hadn't; that I could not ask a little girl like her to forgive me, that I would be ashamed to do so. Mother wanted to know if I thought it would be wrong to ask her — mothers do say such strange things! I said no, of course not. And then she asked what there would be to make me ashamed. Did I think I had treated Namie properly? No, I didn't. If someone had treated me improperly, would I be more ashamed of them if they asked my forgiveness, than I would if they kept silent? I do think mothers are just the worst people to ask questions! They stand you right up in corners and you can't get away from them, no matter how hard you try.
I did ask Namie to forgive me; and I told her I was ashamed of myself; and she put her arms around my neck, and said never mind. And what do you think? She has actually given Gertie Scanlon her Paris doll! She said she never knew that she was selfish about it until that day when I showed her she was. She thinks she is getting too large to play with dolls. But I am older than she, and I like to play with them; and I don't think I could have given away that doll. Mother says she doesn't think Namie was called on to do it; that a plainer doll would have done just as well for little Gertie.
I suppose Namie would not have done it if I had not made her uncomfortable; but then Gertie hugs and kisses it, and takes it out riding with her in her carriage, and says she is "most too happy to live." So some nice things come out of wrong things. Dear me! It is a kind of a muddle. But I do wish I could learn to keep my temper. I don't believe I shall be angry with Namie again in a great while; perhaps never.
Come back on January 20 for Chapter Six!