Have you read Isabella’s novel, Only Ten Cents? In the story young Nettie Beldon’s health is so poor, she is unable to leave her room.
One day, her mother returns from a trip to the store with a surprise:
Mrs. Beldon produced and untied an interesting-looking roll, and spread it out in triumph on the little stand which she drew up in front of Nettie. “There, isn’t that pretty? It is exactly like the things I used to work when I was a little girl. I haven’t seen one of them in I don’t know how many years, yet I used to make them ever so often. When I saw it lying there on the counter I thought of you right away, and thinks I to myself: I do wish I could get one of those for Nettie.”
Nettie raised herself a little from among the pillows, and an eager look began to come into her eyes, while a delicate pink flush appeared on her pale cheek. “For the barrel, mother? Something that I can make?” She looked curiously at the cardboard spread out before her—very familiar material to her mother, but new to Nettie.
“What queer little dotted stuff!” she said. “What is that marked on it? Letters? Why, mother, does it read something?”
“Yes, indeed it does,” said the mother triumphantly. “Here, let me hold it so that you can make it out. They are not very plain, you know: just a pattern to be worked. Take pretty blue or pink, or some kind of worsted or silk, and work the letters so that they stand out bright and clear. They are as pretty a thing as one need have. My, how many of them I used to make when I was a little girl!” She slipped a piece of paper under the cardboard, and then held it in the right light, so that Nettie could read quite distinctly: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
She read slowly, picking out the words that wound in and out amid a sort of scroll-work.
“Why, mother, how very pretty! And how very queer! I never saw anything like it before.”
“I have,” said the mother. “Once I worked this very motto for my grandmother, and she had it framed and hung in her room. It hung there for years.”
Nettie’s mother taught her to cross stitch the letters, and soon Nettie completed the “motto.” But Nettie’s handiwork never hung on any wall in her house; instead, it fulfilled a much greater purpose in the story.
Karen, a long-time friend of this blog, found some great examples of what Nettie’s “motto” might have looked like.
What do you think? Have you ever stitched a motto yourself, or know someone who has? Are mottoes like these too old-fashioned to hang in a today’s modern home?
You can see more examples of mottoes by visiting this Pinterest page: 44 best Victorian Motto Sampler Shoppe
Thank you, Karen, for sharing these images!
You can click on the book cover to learn more about Only Ten Cents, by Isabella Alden.
4 thoughts on “Nettie Beldon’s Motto”
Oh, it’s totally my pleasure! I love this book and have wept my way through it at least twice. If you haven’t read it, by all means, GET IT AND READ IT. It will change your expectations about what just “ten cents” can do for the Kingdom of God. Such a beautiful book and so satisfying (except the bitty ending…you’ll have to reach for a tissue!). Thanks, Jenny, for making it available to us! It’s a wonderful read.
I’m so glad you sent the photo and link, Karen. Now I’m wondering why I ever stopped doing needlework; I think it’s something I’ll take up again in the evenings (especially since I never seem to be able to find anything on TV worth watching!). Love in Him, Jenny
Oh! I used to do this as a kid, I was raised by my great aunt and she loved to cross stitch and embroidery. I worked on a vegetable one for ages that had a verse in the middle. They are a wonderful way to occupy little fingers!
Same for me, Verlie. My mother taught my sisters and me to embroider (we never did get around to learning cross-stitch), and we each embroidered Bible verses to hang in our rooms. 🙂 —Jenny