And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came upon them.
And many that believed, came and confessed and showed their deeds. We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness.
If meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth.
I have had just a dreadful time! I don’t suppose I have behaved so badly since I was quite a little girl.
It all began with my brother Ben; or no, I don’t suppose I ought to say that; it began in my feeling a little bit vain over my diary. I have tried to write very nicely in it. I print the texts at the beginning of each month, and father says I print beautifully, and everybody says I am a very good writer for a girl of my age. Ben writes badly because he is so careless; one day mother, when she was looking at my diary, said, "Ben ought to see this, Gertrude; he never takes any pains with his writing."
So yesterday, when I had my diary down-stairs and he wanted to see it, I opened to the first page, because I thought there was nothing on it that I would not be willing to have him read, and I thought it looked a little bit better than any of the others. Well, he began to read, without saying a word about the writing or the printing, and in a few minutes he burst out laughing. Oh, he just shouted, and doubled himself up, as if he had found something so funny that he could not get over it.
I tried to get the book away from him, but he held fast to it, and laughed: " Oh! if this isn't rich ! Ha, ha, ha! Mother, listen to this, and see if you don't feel complimented." And he began to read aloud from my diary.
I snatched the book then, in good earnest, and got it; but he went on laughing, and mother laughed a little too, and I didn't see yet what it was all about, until Ben said: "So your Bible made Ruth and Naomi into sisters, eh? If that isn't queer; oh no, it wasn't the Bible, it was mother. Why, mother! the idea of your not knowing that they were mother and daughter! Won't that be a jolly thing to tell the boys!" and he went to doubling himself up again, and laughing as though it was the funniest thing in the world.
Then I saw for the first time that I had written in my diary as though those two people were sisters, when of course I knew better all the time. I always knew what relation they were, just as well as Ben did; and of course I did not mean that mother said any such thing.
What I meant to say was, that when Ruth came to have a sister, it was natural that they should think of Naomi, whom Ruth loved so much that she followed her home; and there I had gone and said that nonsense. It was real silly, of course, but I didn't see any sense in Ben making such a time about it. Mother only laughed a little, and when she saw it troubled me, she said: "Ben, I am ashamed of you." But that boy kept repeating the sentence, and adding all sorts of funny thoughts to it, and laughing as though he would never get over it, and making believe that he thought I did not know any better, until I thought I should fly. I burst right out, at last, crying and talking at the same time. I said I thought he was the meanest boy there ever was in this world; and that I would never show him anything again, nor have anything to do with him. And I stamped my foot, and oh, acted awfully! Ben stopped laughing, and looked surprised, but I rushed right on, until father spoke to me from the next room. I did not know he was there. He just spoke my name, and not another word. After a minute, he said to Ben: "Perhaps you would do well to keep a diary, my son, and write that verse in it about stumbling-blocks. You are not the first one whom I have seen use a little knowledge for others to stumble over."
Well, then I felt ashamed all through me. It made me think of my verses and my resolutions, and how I had broken them.
But I did not get over being angry at Ben; I would not look at him, even after he said to father, "I didn't mean any harm, sir; I was just having a little fun with Gertrude. I did not suppose she would fly into a passion."
Fly into a passion, indeed, when he had made me stumble into it, right over him! I thought what father said was good for him; but for all that, I was so sorry I had stumbled. I ran away up to my room and hid you, my dear diary, in a drawer, and said I would never write in you as long as I lived. And then I sat down in a little heap on the foot of the bed and cried. I had meant to have such nice times with Ben, and now they are all spoiled. That was two hours ago, and I have not spoken to him since, and don't mean to. He need not have been so mean. I wouldn't have acted that way for anything. I have made up my mind to try again, and to write in my diary as usual; but I will let Ben alone for the rest of this vacation.
Evening, — Oh, dear! I wish I had not written all that in my diary. I wonder if diaries are real nice? You are always writing in them what you wish you hadn't, and then having to take it back. After I had that dreadful time this morning, I did not feel happy a bit.
I went down to dinner, but I did not speak to Ben, only when I had to answer a question, and then I spoke as short as I could, and did not look at him at all. When I sat with Mother at my mending in the afternoon, she asked me if I did not feel willing to forgive Ben, after he had said that he did not mean any harm. I told her I meant to forgive him, but as for talking with him any more I did not want to; that he had been real mean, and led me into doing what was wrong; that he had been a stumbling-block to me, just as father said.
"He is three years older than you," mother said, and I thought that was queer.
It couldn't be right to treat me in that way, just because he was older. I said, "I thought there was less excuse for him on that account; that he ought to have been even more careful about making me stumble."
"I didn't suppose you thought so," mother said. "I had reason to suppose you would think it all right, as soon as you remembered the difference in your ages."
Well, I laid down the stocking I was darning, and looked at her; I could not imagine what she meant, and I told her so.
"Why," she said, "I heard you making all manner of sport of Charlie the other day because he thought that Boston was in Maine, and he is four years younger than you. You certainly made him stumble sadly that day, and I supposed your excuse would be that you were older than he and had a right to laugh at him."
And there I was! I had done just as mean a thing to poor Charlie, and thought nothing of it; and Charlie had forgiven me in less than an hour, and came and kissed me good-night as sweetly as possible! Oh, dear! I didn't say another word to Mother, but finished my stocking as fast as I could, and went to my room. I am not going to show my diary to anybody any more; so I will tell you that I prayed three times before I felt like treating Ben just as though nothing had happened. Then I brought out my diary and was going to write down what I meant to do, and there was that verse about how the people came and confessed. I said aloud:
"Oh, I never can! I'll treat him just as usual, but I don't want to tell him that I think I have been a goose, and that I have treated little Charlie exactly as he has me." But it didn't do any good. There was no getting away from that verse.
At last I went down, and found Ben out in the carriage house, and I told him the whole story from beginning to end. As soon as he could get a chance to speak, he said, "All right, Gertrude, I was as mean as dirt; but I didn't mean to be, really, and I won't do it again. Let's go and take a ride together."
And we did, and had a nice time. Now that I have come up here to my room for the night, it doesn't seem to me as though Ben did anything very bad, after all. It was mean in me to tease Charlie, because he is such a little fellow; but, of course, Ruth and Naomi were not sisters — I mean Bible Ruth and Naomi were not — and of course I knew it; and I suppose Ben thought I would have sense enough to laugh over the mistake with him. Why can't people think about things at the time, as they will five hours afterwards, I wonder.
Come back on January 16 for Chapter Five!