We have a special treat in store for those of you who love reading! This month, we will post chapters from Isabella (Pansy) Alden's book, Gertrude's Diary. Alden was a pastor's wife who lived 1841-1930. She strove to write stories and books that would challenge the readers and cause them to think. This is a very good example of how she used her writing to glorify God and disciple others.
We believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, we shall be saved, even as they.
Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only.
By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up.
There are four of us, Ruth, and Namie, and Prissy, and I. We are most always together, and what one does, the other want to. Ruth and Namie are sisters. Naomi, the name is, but we always say Namie for short. I told Mother I thought it was funny that two sisters should be named Ruth and Naomi after the Bible, but Mother said it seemed natural to her. That Ruth was such a sweet character it would be pleasant to a mother to name her little girl for her, and that when she had a sister, Ruth’s sister Naomi would come to mind, of course. So I don’t know but it is natural, as Mother says; but I wouldn’t like to be named Naomi unless I could do better than Naomi Bible did. I don’t think much of her. Prissy’s real name is Priscilla Morgan Henderson. Of course we never say that. Everybody calls her just Prissy. Ruth can’t be nicknamed, and she says she is glad of it; but I could be. My name is Gertrude Morrison. Nobody ever thinks of calling me Gertie, or Gert, as they do with that Loomis girl. I am Gertrude to everybody. Mother says she began that way; that she doesn’t like the fashion of clipping girls’ names, as though people never had time to call them just what they are; but I think I should sort of like to be called Gertie. It sounds sweet – but then, I am hardly ever sweet, so I suppose it wouldn’t fit.
Well, we are going to keep a diary, we four. We are to write in it every day, and are to put the golden texts at the beginning of each month, as measures for us to measure our days by.
Mr. Neale told us that. We think it is a real queer idea; and Prissy says she guesses there will be some funny measuring, but we like to do it, after all. We like everything that Mr. Neale says. He is our minister, and he is nice and pleasant. We don't think of being afraid of him, though the first Sunday he had our class we all thought we should faint. He has it often now — once a month. Miss Archer, our teacher, goes home once a month and stays over Sunday, and Mr. Neale takes her place. He doesn't think it is nice for a teacher to go away once a month and leave her class, but we girls do; we wish she would go home every Sunday, and leave us to Mr. Neale.
We are to tell him how we get on measuring our days. I said I didn't believe I would have a thing to tell; but I've found out already some things I might tell if I wanted to, only I'm sure I don't.
This afternoon my sister Frank was getting her French exercise ready, and she had to translate this verse into French: "Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, or of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel, but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price."
She brought her French Bible to me, and I had to watch while she read her translation, to see if she had it right. She made some mistakes, and we had to go over it two or three times before she got it to suit her. Well, a little while afterwards I was dressing to go to our Mission Band, and I wanted to wear my garnet dress and mother did not want me to. She said it was too much dressed just to go over to Namie's with a few little girls, but I had set my heart on wearing it, and I coaxed and coaxed, and when I found that did no good, I slammed the door as hard as I could, and I jerked my blue dress so hard in getting it down from the hook that it tore a little speck; and I said that I never could wear anything decent, but always had to go looking like a fright! It sounds horrid to write them down here, but those were just the words I said. Just then Frank began to read over her lesson to mother, about not being particular about putting on costly apparel, and all that. It made me feel kind of ashamed, and I stopped talking to my blue dress, and hurried as fast as I could and went away to the Mission Band.
I never once thought anything about its having anything to do with these verses until this evening, when I opened my diary. Then the first verse I saw staring at me was that, "Be ye doers of the word and not hearers only." I do think it was strange! There I had been hearing that word about dressing, and keeping a quiet spirit, and all that, and then I went and did right the other thing.
Ruth said this afternoon that her actions were all too short; they wouldn't fit the measure at all. I didn't know what she meant, but I begin to understand.
I wouldn't tell Mr. Neale about this for anything.
Jan. 21st.— Something happens almost every day, and it is a good deal as Ruth says. Things are too short. To-day the baby had a new picture book —lovely colored pictures — and she sat down in the corner to have a good time. But what did she do with almost every leaf she turned but pucker up her pretty little mouth and say: "Oh, dood dracious!" It sounded so funny that I wanted to laugh, but mother looked very grave, and kept telling baby that she must not say so; it was naughty. At last, she told her if she said it again the book would be taken from her. For about five minutes baby remembered, then she turned to a very bright picture, and out came the words again: “Dood dracious!" Mother came and took the book away, and baby cried hard enough to break my heart, but as soon as she could speak she sobbed out: "Dertrude says so. She said it to her hair all the time." Then I remembered that this morning when I was combing my hair it pulled and snarled dreadfully, and I suppose I must have said the words without thinking. Mother looked at me very soberly, and told me I would do well to look in my diary and see how true one of my texts was. I couldn't think what she meant, and I felt ashamed to ask her; yet here it is: "By thy words thou shalt be condemned." And it seems my naughty words condemned baby too. Oh, dear me! I should think I would learn to be careful.
Jan. 30th.— To-day Ruth had something that "measured." We had a spelling-down school. It was great fun. I stood up a good while, and at last I got down on a silly little word of two syllables. I shall always know how to spell sulphur after this, but I couldn't believe it possible that there was any other way than "sul-pher." I had two chances, and spelled it the same each time, because it did not seem to me that there could be any other way. Well, pretty soon the word "separate" came to Ruth. There were only three standing then, and Ruth was our particular friend, and we did hope she would stand the longest, so we all nodded our heads at her to encourage her. She smiled, and spelled. "Right," said Miss Belmont, and she smiled pleasantly; "so many boys and girls spell that word incorrectly that I am particularly glad you made no mistake."
Ralph Burns, who is always talking, asked how they spelled it, and Miss Belmont said, “With an ‘e’."
Just then there was a knock at the door, and one of the professors wanted to speak to Miss Belmont; and she was gone quite a few minutes." We girls kept bowing and smiling at Ruth, so glad that she had not been beaten, but she looked real sober. When Miss Belmont came back, she spoke real quick as if she was in a hurry to get the words said:
"Miss Belmont, I spelled that word with an ' e.' I thought that was the way."
Miss Belmont looked astonished, and we girls looked disgusted, and Prissy said she was sure Ruth was mistaken, that she heard the "a" just as plain as day. But Ruth kept saying that she knew she spelled it with an "e," that she had not thought of there being any other way; so she went and sat down.
Ralph Burns stood up the longest, but it wasn't very long, and he told Miss Belmont that he should have got down on "separate," if it had come to him, for he always spelled it with an "e." I thought that was real nice of him. Right after spelling, we had recess.
We asked Ruth what she corrected Miss Belmont's mistake for; that we didn't think it was necessary. And Ruth said yes, it was; it wasn't being humble in the sight of the Lord to take praise that did not belong to you. She said that softly to me, for she knew I would remember the verse, and I did.
"Ruth," I said to her, "you did the first part of the verse, but you haven't had the last happen to you."
"Yes, I have," she said. "I feel ' lifted up ' in my heart, and real happy."
It was real queer, but the last part of the verse came true right before our eyes. It was about three o'clock, and we all sat there studying, when the door opened and Professor Thompson looked in.
"Miss Belmont," he said, "if you have a young lady here whom you are sure you can trust to do just as she is told, and to tell a thing just as it is, I want to borrow her for a little while to drive with me to town."
And Miss Belmont said she believed there were a good many of her girls whom she could recommend, but just now the one that she was sure of was Miss Ruth Chester. We don't know what he wanted, nor anything about it, but we know she rode away in Professor Thompson's sleigh, and it is a very handsome one, all lined with red, and with lovely soft robes; and he drives two splendid horses, and the bells are just lovely. They went to town too, and did not get back until most dark, for I saw the sleigh dash by awhile ago; and of course Ruth had a splendid time—people who go with Professor Thompson always do. Miss Janie Thompson and Mr. Will Thompson went too; and they are just as splendid as they can be! I think it was real queer how Ruth got "lifted up " right away.
Come back on January 7 for Chapter Two!