I have found David my servant: with my holy oil have I anointed him.
He blesseth the habitation of the just.
Thy throne shall be established forever.
Thin own friend, and thy father’s friend, forsake not.
It was the meanest Fourth of July that I ever spent in my life! And we girls had been getting ready for it for more than a month, and thought it was going to be perfectly splendid!
The trouble was that Prissy and I quarreled! I never thought we would, and it was all about such a silly little thing. We were having our last rehearsal, the day before the Fourth. It was dreadfully warm up in the hall, and we were so tired we could hardly stand. We had been at work all day, trimming the hall, and rehearsing, and running of errands for the older folks, who never seem to think that the feet of girls younger than fourteen, can get tired!
Just as we were singing ‘Hail glorious Day!’ for about the fourteenth time, I do believe — just because some of the girls would not put in the rest at the right place—Namie whispered to me that she should think they would all be glad to rest, if they were as tired as we. Well, right in the midst of it, Tom sent in word that he wanted to speak to me, and I had to be excused and go out to the hall, and down two flights of stairs, and all in the world he wanted was to know if I had seen his exercise book anywhere! When I came back, Prissy had slipped into my chair. She knows I like to sit just there, and it is my place, for I have had it most every time. She did not make a motion toward moving when I came back; I was warm and tired, so I just nudged her and whispered: “Hurry up, and get out of my place."
She whispered back: “It is no more your place than mine," and sat as still as a stone. And there I stood, waiting, and looking ridiculous, until Miss Seymour said: "Gertrude, be seated, please; we are waiting for you." Then I sat down in Prissy's seat, but I looked cross at her, and did not sing on the first line. Miss Seymour noticed it, and stopped them all, and told me if I was going to sing in the chorus, I must sing now. Then I said: "I want my own seat, Miss Seymour; I can't sing so well unless I am where I belong."
And then what did Prissy do but tell her I chose the best seat in the class and kept it from all the rest. "She wants this seat because it is by the window and she can get a breeze now and then," said Prissy. Now I thought that was so mean! I had never once thought of the window. I liked to sit there because I could get the sound of Miss Seymour's voice on the hard parts, and because I had got used to the place. I said, "It's no such thing!" and then Miss Seymour said: " Oh, girls, don't quarrel about such a trifle as that. It doesn't matter which sits first, you or Prissy, but it does matter that we get home sometime to-night."
After that the rehearsal went on. In the recess Prissy got up and said to me : “Take your seat, do, and look out of the window as much as you want to ; though how it came to belong to you any more than to me, would be hard to tell."
This made me very angry, and I said: "It is my seat because I have had it at every rehearsal, and nobody has said a word. I am sure if I had known you wanted it so badly, though, I would have given it up. You might have had it without stealing." Then Prissy would not sit down in it again, and I wouldn't. She stood before me and waited, and I wouldn't get up, and when the girls came back she took the seat below me, and that left the one at the end without a chair.
Just then Professor Mills came in to sing with us. "What is this vacant chair for?" he asked, the moment he stepped on the platform. We girls kept still, and Miss Seymour told him it belonged either to Prissy or me, but we neither of us seemed to want it. I think she might have told him that it had been mine all the time, but she didn't.
"Oh, they don't," he said, and he looked hard at us. My face was red, I know by the feeling, and Prissy's looked like a peony. He waited a minute, then he said: "Hannah Smith, you may come and occupy this seat, and keep it to-morrow."
Now Hannah Smith is the girl at the very end of the class, and she has a little peeping voice; it wouldn't have made a speck of difference if she had not sung at all; and there he put her at the head as if she were the leader! Then, there was something worse than that. I did not think of it until afterwards; but that changed things so, that when we marched to the grove, I had to walk with Hannah Smith, and Prissy had to walk with Trudie Ellis whom she doesn't like very well, and that disarranged all the others. They had planned to march with their friends, and there was the dreadfullest mix-up that you ever saw! The girls did not like it one bit, and they looked cross at us, and said it was a pity that everybody had to suffer, because those two children were silly enough to quarrel! Miss Seymour would not let them change around at all; she said there had been trouble enough already made by that.
So there we were, and there we had to stay, all through the exercises and the marching, and everything. Then, when we went up to receive our wreaths, Hannah got the one which had been made for me. I knew it in an instant. My dear Miss Dunlap sent it to me from her own lovely garden, but she had pinned on it a paper which read: "For the first right-hand girl in the procession." That was to have been me, and she knew it, and there it was Hannah. Oh dear, such a mix! Prissy did not speak to me all day long, nor I to her. Besides, I was so cross to poor Hannah that I don't think she had a bit good time. She would much rather have been down at the foot, with her friend Sarah.
The only speck of comfort I can find tonight, is the thought that there isn't anything in the verses for July, to prick into me. I have had enough to bear, and I am glad they can't sting me. There isn't any possible way of making them fit.
Monday: Oh, dear! They did fit, and pricked the worst of anything I ever had. You see, we went on quarreling. Prissy and I, and wouldn't speak to each other in Sunday-school, and wouldn't go to the woods on Saturday. That is, I wouldn't go, because Prissy was invited, and she wouldn't go because I was, and so we both stayed at home. I don't know how father heard of it, unless Tom told him; Tom does always manage to tell things, somehow, but I am glad he did this time, for if he hadn't, I don't know how we would ever have gotten out of our trouble. It kept growing worse and worse.
Sunday night, father asked to see our verses for the month, and he read them over very carefully, then he called me, and pointed to the last one, and told me he wanted me to read it. "Thine own friend, and thy father's friend forsake not." I did, and then I asked him why he wanted me to read it, and he said it reminded him of a story he wanted to tell me.
Then he told me about a young man who got into bad company, and stayed out late nights, and began to smoke, and play cards, and even drink a little wine; and he was getting ready to break his mother's heart; but there was a man two years younger than he, who tried to help him in every way he could think of. He would help him with his work, and coax him away from bad companions, and wait for him at night, and let him in, to keep him from disgrace, and do everything for him. He said sometimes he was angry with the young man for trying to help him, and would say cross and hateful things, but they were all taken patiently, and, oh, I can't tell it! It was a long story and very interesting; I got so busy listening, that I forgot to wonder why father was telling it, or what it had to do with our verses, until after he had said that the young man succeeded at last in saving his friend, he said: "Gertrude, you know one of the men." "
I do?!" I said, and I was so glad. It made it sound like a story out of a book.
"Yes," father said, "I was one of them." I went and put my arms around father's neck and said I knew he was the good young man, that it was just like him, but he said: "No, Gertrude, I was the bad young man, and I came just as near going to ruin as many people do. I think I should have gone, but for my friend, who has been in Heaven for a good many years, but I have never forgotten him. He, Gertrude, he was your friend Prissy's father."
Then in less than a minute, I knew which verse was going to prick. Prissy's father! and here I had been "forsaking my father's friend," or at least forsaking his own daughter which was worse! I felt dreadfully. I told father I would ask Prissy to forgive me, and make up, and love her always whatever she did, just for his sake. I made up my mind that night, that whether Prissy would speak to me or not, I would be just as good to her as I knew how. This morning as soon as I was up, I ran over to Prissy's, and went up to her room, and said : "Prissy, I want you to forgive me, and let me be your friend, because your father was my father's friend, and he says he will never forget it."
Then Prissy raised up in bed and threw both arms around me and said: "I think I was real mean; for you ought to have had the seat, and I have been sorry ever since.”
Come back on January 27 for Chapter Eight!