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Verse for Today

"I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go; I will guide thee with mine eye." Psalm 32:8

Friday, January 20, 2012

Gertrude's Diary - Six

Chapter Six
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free.
Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
We know that all things work together for good to them that love God.
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.
Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

We girls go to temperance meetings every single night. Mr. Ned Wilson who was here visiting last week said it was a queer time to have temperance meetings right in the middle of June; and our Tom who is real sharp sometimes asked him if people didn't drink whiskey in the middle of June. Ned laughed, and said he rather thought they did. After he went away father said he was afraid that Ned knew by experience that they did, for he was beginning to drink.

The temperance meetings are real splendid. Great crowds come to them, and they sing a great deal, and play on the organ, and the cornet, and ever so many go up and sign the pledge; and Mr. Burdick talks; he is the temperance lecturer. Oh, journal! I cannot help wishing sometimes, that you were a girl and could enjoy things, and talk back, you know. But, then, if you could, I suppose you would talk right when I wanted to, most everybody does, and I have to keep still times when I am just as anxious to speak as I can be. I guess it is better as it is. I'll tell you: I am going to pretend that you are a girl, but are deaf and dumb and I have to tell you things in the sign language. Won't that be nice.

The temperance meetings are not like any that I ever attended before. Mr. Burdick talks every night; he is just splendid. He has been a drunkard; and while I don't suppose it can be a good thing that this was so, still he does know more about the way they feel, and what will help them, than he could if he had never been one. Last night he told a story about a man who had reformed and he went to a house where they had peach sauce with brandy in it, and he ate some, without noticing the taste of brandy, and it made the awful thirst for liquor come back again, and he had to walk the floor for two nights, and pray. Mother does not put brandy in peaches, but she makes a kind of jelly that she puts wine in. I like it better than any jelly I ever tasted, and I didn't know there was wine in it until yesterday.

When I was helping her get dinner she told me about it, and said she: "Now, Gertrude, we have fifteen glasses of jelly with wine in it, and I suppose there is enough in it to affect a person, just as the peaches did that man about whom Mr. Burdick told. What do you think we would better do with it?"

Well, first I said I thought we ought to send it to Mrs. Akers, she is sick and poor, and it might strengthen her; then I thought of Harry Akers, he is fourteen and his mother always saves some of her good things for him; that wouldn't do. Then I said the only safe place I could think of for it was the garbage barrel. Mother laughed and said she agreed with me, and we had real fun putting it there. Tom came home while we were doing it, and he pretended he thought it was a dreadful waste; but last night he signed the pledge. He wouldn't the night before, for he said he didn't want to be tied with an apron string; that he knew what was wrong to do, and could keep from doing it without writing his name on a piece of paper; I asked him to-night what made him change his mind, and he looked at me with a queer laugh, and said, since the jelly was all gone, he might as well sign as not. I don't know what he meant. Mother says she never knew before that a little wine used in cooking, could do anybody any hurt.

But, my dear deaf and dumb friend, I was going to tell you about one of the verses. We sat together, last night, Ruth and Namie and I, and Mr. Ned Wilson sat right behind us with two other young men. He is Ruth's uncle. When the people rushed up to sign the pledge, Ruth leaned back and coaxed her uncle Ned to go too. He laughed and said he couldn't, it was against his principles. That sounded so queer that I asked him what it meant:

"Do you mean it is wrong to sign?" I asked him.

"Oh, no," he said, "there was nothing wrong about it for people who chose to do so, and who needed such crutches."

"But," I said, "I thought going against one's principles was wrong." And one of the young men bent forward to me and whispered: "That depends, my little friend, on whether the principles in themselves are wrong or right, doesn't it?"

Now of course it does, but I had not thought of that. Still I did not understand it, and I asked Mr. Ned if he wouldn't tell me what he meant. He said he believed in people having liberty to do just as they pleased, or thought best, without being tied by a promise.

I asked him if that had anything to do with their promising not to do a thing that they didn't think best. Then those young men laughed; I am sure I don't know at what. The word "Liberty" made me think of one of our verses: "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free." And that made me think of our talk with Mr. Neale; we asked him what it meant and he explained, with a little silk thread. I said to Mr. Wilson that I thought the pledge was nothing but a little silk thread. He wanted to know what I meant, and kept questioning me, until he got the whole story. You see, we girls had almost quarreled as to what the verse about liberty meant, and when Mr. Neale came in, we all rushed up to him to get help. He sat down right away and took a piece of strong twine from his pocket and asked me to break it. I tried, and tried, and it wouldn't break; then the girls tried, and they couldn't. Then he tied my hands with it, and told me to try to get free from it, and I couldn't. Then he asked mother for a spool of silk and she gave him a fine red silk. He took one thread of it and tied Namie's hands, and told her to break away; she did in a second. Then he tied Ruth with the same silk thread, and told her to hold still until he put up a sign. He printed on two cards two sentences: one said: "You are a slave." That he put in front of me. I laughed, but I told him it was true; I could not get my hands free. The other card said: "If you break that thread you will grieve Jesus." This he put up before Ruth; then when he told her to break the thread she shook her head and said; "I don't want to." He smiled and said:

"That is right, Ruthie, stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free. You can, but you don't want to, for a grand reason."

Father says he thinks that this is a good illustration. Well, I had to tell it all off to Mr. Ned Wilson. He seemed a good deal interested, and don't you think tonight he signed the pledge! I don't suppose what I said had anything to do with it. Mr. Burdick talked about liberty tonight, and he made it so plain that I suppose Ned could not get away from it. When he came back from the pledge table, I was standing in the aisle waiting to let Mrs. Morse pass, and he whispered: "The thread of silk has got me, you see. I can, but I won't."

Come back on January 23 for Chapter Seven!

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