|CHAPTER IV. -- FLORA'S FIRST SUNDAY.|
BREAKFAST over, and the dishes cleared away, Flora looked about, wondering what else there was for her to do. Her father was reading a paper, and the boys had gone away. She went to the window where Lottie's potato stood in its jar. The sight of it carried her thoughts back so vividly to the old days, that she half resolved to look at it no more.
She felt dull and spiritless to-day; it was no wonder, for there was little to make her feel otherwise. At Aunt Bertha's, every one had been accustomed to attend church, and Flora remained to Sunday-school. She had been converted and received into the church about a year before her aunt's death. Her sudden sorrow, her hasty trip from Brinton, and her unfamiliar surroundings in her new home, caused her to feel as if she had been removed to a heathen land.
None of the Hazeley household attended church, and Flora knew of no place to which she could go, for all was
Still standing at the window, and looking drearily out on the quiet street, she saw Ruth and little Jem passing, on their way to church. When they saw Flora they stopped, and she, glad to see a friendly face, hastened to open the door.
"Would you not like to come with us to church, this morning?" asked Ruth.
"Indeed I should," replied Flora. "I was just wondering what I was going to do with myself to day. Wait a minute; I will be ready in a very short time."
As good as her word, she was soon ready. "I am so glad that you stopped for me, Ruth," said she, as they walked along. "I know nothing about the churches here, and no one goes from our house."
"That is too bad," returned Ruth, sympathizingly.
Flora was indeed glad that she had come when, as they ascended the church steps, she heard the deep tones of the organ pealing out a welcome to all who entered. As they walked up the aisle, it seemed as if the sweet notes of the music twined around them, as though enfolding them in a loving embrace. A feeling of quiet content
In clear, distinct tones he read: "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might." Twice he slowly read the words, until Flora thought he surely must have pressed them right into her brain, for she felt that they were indelibly imprinted on her memory. Whether the sermon was intended especially for young people, or not, she did not know, but she felt that it was peculiarly adapted to herself. I have no doubt that the older folks felt the same with regard to themselves. It was one of those texts and sermons that suit everybody.
"I wonder how many of my hearers can say truthfully that they have done with their might 'whatsoever' their hands found to do." said the minister, looking, as Flora thought, directly at her.
She dropped her eyes uneasily to the floor, and mentally admitted, "I, for one, have not, unless it was to grumble and fret with all my might. I have done that, but nothing else, at least since I came home."
"I am sure you cannot say that your hand has found nothing to do. You can perhaps say that your hand has not found what you wished it to do; but that is not what the words of the text teach. It says whatsoever thy hand finds to do.' Then too, it is to be done ' with thy might'; not half-heartedly."
"Oh," commented Flora to herself, "why should he talk so straight at me? If he is not describing Flora Hazeley, I am mistaken."
"Did you ever notice," the minister continued, "that when you did a thing heartily, even though it was not the most agreeable occupation to you, it became more easy and pleasant to you?"
Flora thought of the little help she had voluntarily given her mother the previous evening, and again inwardly agreed with the speaker. The minister said a great many things that morning, some of which had never entered Flora's mind, and they made her very thoughtful; so thoughtful that she paid but little attention to the strains of the organ that accompanied her out of the church. She remembered he had spoken of many kinds of work the hands might find to do, and which were to be done faithfully and heartily. Perhaps it would be church
"According to that, we all have a 'whatsoever,'" said Flora, emphatically to herself; "and the sooner I decide to start on my own part, the better it will be for me."
With her mind busy with many things, Flora was very quiet on her way home. The sermon to which they had listened was plain and practical. It was not brilliant, but it was helpful. The ideas were not necessarily new, but the words fell upon at least one heart already prepared and softened by circumstances to receive and profit by them. To Flora they were seed, falling upon the prepared ground of her heart, and in due time the fruit came
Ruth respected her friend's silence, for she saw that she was busy with her thoughts, and guessing something of what they were, she was also quiet. Jem was unaffected by the silence of her elders. She walked along at Ruth's side, with her hand closely holding her sister's. Her happy life caused her every now and then to lapse from her dignified walk, and give a little jump and a skip. A continual volley of questions was thrown at Ruth, whose replies were not always as obvious as occasion demanded.
Jem's quick retort, "No, it isn't, Ruth," brought her to a realization of her abstractedness, and she resolved to be more attentive.
They left Flora at her door, Ruth asking if she had enjoyed the service, and added:
"Will you not come to Sunday-school with us this afternoon?"
"I did enjoy the sermon very much," Flora replied, "and I shall be pleased to go to Sunday-school. If you will call for me, Ruth, I will be ready when you come." A number of things grew out of Flora's experience on this Sunday. Its influence stayed with her, and had no
Ruth taught a class in the Sunday-school, and persuaded Flora to consent to take one also, if the necessity arose. She introduced her to the superintendent, who welcomed her cordially to the little band of Christian toilers.
"One class is in need of a teacher," he said; "will you not take it? It is composed of girls from ten to twelve years of age."
"Oh, I should not dare to undertake a class of girls so old!" exclaimed Flora. "I am too young myself. Give me little girls, such as Ruth has."
"But," said Mr. Gardiner, "there is no such class in need of a teacher. Besides, it is not the age that has to do with your success as a teacher; it is the earnestness, perseverance, patience, and true piety which you bring to the work that will bring forth the results you desire." "I am so inexperienced," murmured Flora.
"Neither has that anything to do with the matter," contended the gentleman, smiling. "Experience will come, all in good time," he added.
"Well," said Flora, "I will do my best."
"That is right," answered Mr. Gardiner, heartily. He felt sure that the young girl before him would succeed, for energy, conscientiousness, and determination could be read plainly in her bearing, and these, he knew, were characteristics of a successful teacher. He was glad, therefore, he had persuaded her.
Ruth, also, was pleased, for now her friend would be also a co-worker.
Flora felt sad when she thought that her family were the only ones of those who knew her who were entirely indifferent as to what she did or where she went.
"Only think, Ruth," she said to her friend, "it doesn't matter to them, whether I go wrong or right. What encouragement is there for a girl in my place to try to do right?"
"It does seem hard, dear," the gentle friend replied; "but then you will shine out all the brighter in the end for doing right in the face of discouragements; and God cares, you know."
They were at the gate, and bidding Ruth good-bye, Flora slowly went up the path to the house, her brain very active with new thoughts and purposes.
"Yes, God will help me, if I ask him," said Flora, softly, as she went to her room, and after doffing her hat and jacket, she knelt beside her bed, and asked the dear Lord to bless and strengthen her in her new surroundings, and let her life tell for him.