For Day-School Teachers

18 Jul

As a teacher of young children for over forty years, Isabella Alden knew the power and influence teachers had over the hearts and minds of their students.

Here’s a story Isabella told about that very topic, in a column she wrote for The Christian Endeavor World magazine in 1901:

There is a teacher of my acquaintance, a cultivated young woman, who would be shocked and offended if she knew that I did not like to invite her familiarly to my home lest my little daughter should learn objectionable speech from her.

In the schoolroom, I am told, she guards her speech with care, and is thoroughly alive to the indiscretions of her pupils. But she frequents a home where two of her scholars live, being the intimate friend of their grown-up sister. Here she indulges in “Goodness!” and “My gracious!” on occasion, speaks of her pupils as “the kids,” and talks about “swell” neighborhoods and people, or mentions certain persons whose peculiarities of speech or manner make her “tired,” and in various other ways offends against good taste and true refinement.

And the young people in that home, who admire their pretty and vivacious teacher, are steadily copying not her school-room elegance, but her offhand vulgarities. Is that too strong a word?

Keeping in mind the fact that words like “swell” and “kids” were considered ill-bred slang in Isabella’s time, how would you answer her question?

Do you think the young teacher should not have used vulgar words?

Do you think Isabella was being too critical of the young teacher for using such words in front of her impressionable students?

Do you think, in general, teachers should be careful of their conduct inside as well as outside the classroom?

Tom Randolph’s Vision

11 Jul

Isabella’s novel The Randolphs is set in New York City. The book follows the fortunes of the Randolph siblings, all young adults who are each trying to find happiness and their places in the world.

In the story, Tom Randolph—after facing some early trouble in his own life because of alcohol—is a devoted “temperance man.”

In a conversation with his brother-in-law, Mr. Harper, Tom mentions how hard it is for young men to stay away from alcohol because of “how many places in this city it can be found.”

“Only think of the fact that, however much you might desire it, you could not find a hotel to stop at, throughout the length and breadth of this whole city, where liquor is not sold.”

“Is that actually so?” Mr. Harper said, in astonishment.

“It is really so; and not only that, but the large boarding-houses, where most of the working men who are without homes of their own have to gather, have side tables where they retail beer and whiskey. Temptation is spread on every hand, not only for those who want it fearfully by reason of an already formed taste, but for those who, because of no better place in which to spend their leisure time, are compelled to look on until they too follow the general example.”

“And your remedy is?” Mr. Harper asked, inquiringly; and there was a respectful tone in his voice. He was learning something from his young brother-in-law.

“Why, if I had the purse, I would have a temperance hotel.”

Tom’s idea of opening a hotel that didn’t serve alcohol wasn’t a new one. Temperance hotels were very popular in Great Britain and Europe, but they were almost unheard of in America.

In 1867 the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) began operating an alcohol-free hotel for young men in Chicago. Besides lodgings, the Chicago YMCA offered a parlor and a library for members’ use.

The lounge in a YMCA Chicago branch location, about 1923.

Unfortunately, the Chicago YMCA burned down only a year after it opened. Though a new building was constructed in its place, it was built without any sleeping rooms.

In 1869—the same year Isabella wrote The Randolphs—a new YMCA opened in New York City with great fanfare. It housed art studios, a large library, and a lecture hall that could seat 1,500 people.

Artist’s rendering of the lecture room in the New York YMCA. From Harper’s Weekly magazine, 1869.

Members of the New York Y could use the services of a nearby gymnasium; and they could take advantage of a steady schedule of activities designed to offer young men wholesome entertainment. But, again, the New York YMCA was built without sleeping rooms.

The library at the New York YMCA. From Harper’s Weekly magazine, 1869.

Isabella would have been aware of the YMCA and the great growth the organization had enjoyed in the U.S.A. Newspapers across the country regularly printed articles about the Y, and the programs it offer young men that promoted a healthy spirit, mind, and body.

The billiard room in the Hoboken, New Jersey YMCA in 1918.

Most YMCAs had extensive libraries, billiard rooms, and well-appointed cafeterias.

Cafeteria in the Omaha, Nebraska YMCA, 1916.

They were places where young men could socialize and have fun, make friends and learn new skills, all in a “vice-free” environment.

YMCAs often reached out to young men, encouraging them to join and take advantage of the Y’s programs. This is a postcard the YMCA in Cleveland Ohio used in 1910:

On the reverse side is a message of invitation to a young man to join one of the Y’s health classes:

Isabella knew, however, that despite all the wonderful activities and programs the YMCA offered, the Y’s influence over young men ceased the moment they left left the premises. Some young men went home to good families; but far too many went to hotels or boarding houses where liquor was served. That’s one reason she liked the idea of temperance hotels.

A fitness class at the Cleveland, Ohio YMCA in 1910.

In the late 1880s—the same time period when Isabella wrote The Randolphs—the YMCA began putting up a few new buildings that included residence arrangements.

Some of the accommodations were similar to small hotel-like rooms with bathrooms down the hall. Others had dormitories with rows of beds in a single, large room.

A corner of a dormitory style room in the Troy, New York YMCA, 1907.

The YMCA advertised their lodgings as safe and affordable. They were serviceable places to sleep, but they were far from first-class accommodations.

In The Randolphs, Tom Randolph thought it was possible to create a better Christian-based hotel.

Tom envisioned a temperance hotel that had . . .

“. . . carpets, and mirrors, and sofas, and brilliant gaslights, and the glitter of silver, and everything else that is used to entice and entrap. I would have such a place as would offer not a shadow of excuse to any living man for not stopping at the Temperance House, except the one honest reason that he wanted to go where there was rum.”

As Tom said in the story, the best way to fight Satan was with “his own weapons—if they do really belong to him.” If Satan used bright gaslights and glittering glassware to tempt men to drink in saloons, Tom would use the same to entice men into his temperance hotel.

Bible study at a Utah YMCA in 1906.

He thought a nice hotel that offered first-class rooms and excellent service was the very thing needed to interest young men; and if the sleeping rooms were affordably priced, there would be no excuse for men to stay at any other hotel unless they specifically wanted to be able to drink alcohol on the premises.

The lobby of the YMCA in Amsterdam, New York, 1910.

Tom was to have his wish. In the novel, Tom was able to secure the financial backing he needed to buy an old New York City hotel and remodel it. Tom’s adventures in opening and operating the hotel soon include other members of his family, and their involvement helps drive the rest of the story.

An invitation to attend the opening of new rooms at the Carbondale, Pennsylvania YMCA.

Isabella was something of a visionary when she wrote The Randolphs. She foresaw the need for temperance hotels, just as she foresaw the welcome such establishments would receive from communities.

From The Asbury Park Press (New Jersey), April 9, 1906.

By the turn of the century the idea of first-class temperance hotels began to catch on in America. Some communities, like the seaside resort town of Asbury Park, New Jersey, openly invited temperance hotels to open in their town.

From The Daily Notes, Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, December 22, 1906.

The YMCA recognized the need, too. The organization had always offered first-class entertainment for its members, but in the 1900s they began upgrading their residence accommodations. Newer YMCAs had residential rooms that were more spacious and home-like (although they still couldn’t be described as “luxurious”).

This 1908 trade card from the Brooklyn New York YMCA pictured a home-like single room.

In 1912 the Boston YMCA began construction on their flagship location in Boston.

The Boston YMCA, 1915.

The building was so large, it covered almost an entire city block on Huntington Avenue. It offered men extensive classes on a range of subjects, including engineering and science. Its health education and body-building programs were the first in the nation. And its residential floors provided plenty of dormitory style sleeping accommodations for young men.

When Tom Randolph opened his temperance hotel in The Randolphs, he named the place Randolph House. Before he opened the doors for business, he ensured Randolph House was consecrated with prayer.

And he did one other thing: he remodeled the old ballroom that was part of the previous hotel. He did the work himself and kept the work secret, until he showed his sister Helen what he had done.

“What is all this for?” she asked, gazing up and down the room with satisfied eyes. The beauty and the refinement displayed here actually rested her, she was such a lover of beautiful things, especially of things that meant wealth and cultured taste and leisure to enjoy.  

Then Tom unveiled the sign he intended to hang at the entrance to the remodeled ballroom:

Young Men’s Christian Association Rooms.

Only then did he reveal his plan to start a branch of the YMCA at Randolph House, where young Christian men could pray, and socialize, and study their Bibles together.

In The Randolphs Isabella gave us a glimpse into her own dreams and ideals of what a first-class Christian temperance hotel might look like . . . and what it could accomplish in the lives of young men.

You can find out more about Isabella’s novel The Randolphs by click on the book cover.

 

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The Story of the Revolution

4 Jul

A New Free Read!

3 Jul

As the editor and principal contributor to The Pansy magazine, Isabella had many opportunities to reach children and teens with a message of Christ’s love.

Stories, poems and novels were her vehicles for teaching young readers about salvation, forgiveness, and honesty. Isabella especially used the magazine to show children what it meant to walk with Jesus in their everyday lives.

Today’s story—from an 1895 issue of The Pansy—teaches young readers about the impact one act of kindness can have on a young girl.

Choose the way you want to read the story:


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Angela’s Temptation

It was a very warm morning, and the basement kitchen in which Angela had been at work, was dark and hot. Her work was by no means done; the floor must be scrubbed, and everything in and about the kitchen put into perfect order, and the dishes were not all washed. Yet Angela stood in the middle of the room, her cheeks very red, and a look almost of despair in her beautiful Italian eyes, as she gazed at the fragments of a handsome cut-glass pitcher which lay at her feet. That pitcher she knew was very much prized by Miss Ethel, Mrs. Parker’s only daughter; and whatever Miss Ethel liked was doubly dear to her mother’s heart. It was only this morning that Angela had received a caution to handle it carefully, and here it lay in a dozen pieces!

She could not have told how it happened. She had remembered the caution given her, and had rinsed and dried the pitcher with the utmost care, and was climbing to the top shelf to set it away. At that moment a gust of wind had blown one of the closet doors against her elbow, and so startled her that she almost lost her balance, and then the pitcher somehow had escaped from her grasp.

Poor Angela! Perhaps you cannot think how bitter was her temptation. As quickly as thought can travel, she was back in her Italian home, leaning against one of the tall pillars of Madame Carara’s workroom, watching the kettle which hung over the fire, and polishing •the elegant fruit plates, and doing more dreaming than anything else. It was very warm, she remembered, and she was bare-footed, and wore nothing but her loose blouse and skirt; and had the sleeves pushed up above her elbow, and sat thinking, what if she were the mistress of this beautiful home, instead of the little kitchen girl whose duty it was to wait on all the other servants, and do anything that they did not like to do? If she were the mistress, she would wear, she thought, a white silk dress trimmed with diamonds and lace, and would order her gondola to be made ready, and would float about on the lovely green and gold and purple water, just as long as she pleased; for dinner she would have—and then she had jumped up quickly, hearing Rosa’s call, and had forgotten that she had a plate on her lap, and it had smashed itself!

Angela believed that she would never forget that morning. There had been no chance to hide the mischief; if there had been, she would not have told of it for the world; but Rosa was upon her even before she could gather up the tell-tale pieces; then, oh, how Angela had been scolded! Yes, and whipped! The Italian lady with whom she lived was not above raising her own strong arm to punish Angela. Her poor head and ears and neck had tingled and ached all day from the blows which they received. But worse than that, Angela was not allowed to go to the great fete which was held for two days, and to which she was to go that afternoon. Instead, she spent the long bright afternoon shut up in her room, weeping bitterly.

That was a year ago; but every detail of the day was as vivid to her mind this July morning as though she had just lived through it. Many things had happened since. She had crossed the great ocean, and come to America to live, and was a Sunday-school scholar, and a Junior Christian Endeavor member—A large girl for that society, older than the most; but they had made room for her and been good and kind, and Angela loved them.

But what hard fate followed her that her troubles must come so near to holidays? Tomorrow would be the fourth of July, the American fete day, as Angela called it; and tomorrow afternoon they, the Juniors, were to go on the cars out to the Superintendent’s lovely home, and have games on the lawn, and tea in the summer house, and ice cream and fireworks in the evening! And she was to go with the rest. Mrs. Parker had planned a new white dress for her, with pink ribbons to match her eyes, Miss Ethel said, though surely her eyes were not pink! In the way of all this beauty lay a mountain, in the shape of a broken pitcher.

Do you begin to understand Angela’s temptation? To be sure there was no Rosa to spy out her trouble. Cook was away for the day, and Mrs. Parker and Miss Ethel would not be downstairs until nearly lunch time. Nothing would be easier than to hide out of sight forever the broken pieces, and let Mrs. Parker suppose the pitcher safe on the top shelf where it was usually kept. If only Miss Ethel had not wanted to send cream in it this morning to that sick girl, it would be there now! Couldn’t she say nothing about it until after the Fourth-of-July fete? Only until then; after that she would be willing to tell the whole story, and take the hardest whipping any girl could receive.

She walked the floor and cried, and wrung her hands in her intense Italian fashion, but she did not resolve to carry out this plan. What was in the way? Why, as I told you, she was a Junior Endeavorer, Despite the fact that she had been only a year in this country, and spoke our language in a broken fashion which made some of the girls laugh, and found everything about her very new and strange, she had taken to her heart the pledge of the Juniors, and meant to keep it if she could. Moreover, the very night she was received as an active member, she walked home behind some of the large girls and heard their talk. There had been an Italian boy received at the same time, into the older society. One of the girls in speaking of it said, “I think he ought to have waited until he understood things better. Those Italians are not trustworthy people; father says it is all but impossible for them to tell the truth.”

Then Miss Ethel had said, “Oh, I don’t think so! I feel almost certain that our Angela is truthful, and would be, even though she were tempted.”

Angela’s face had glowed, in the darkness, with joy and pride over those words. This July morning she thought of them, and they finally settled for her the question of concealment. It was a dreadful trial; it was to her like giving up everything, for the time being, but she would do it.

A very red-cheeked, swollen-eyed girl knocked presently at Mrs. Parker’s door and was invited in. The kitchen work was all neatly done now, and Angela had taken up her heavy cross and gone upstairs. With eyes downcast and lips that quivered, she told her woeful tale. Silence for a minute, then Mrs. Parker said:

“Very well, Angela; I am sorry, of course; but I am glad you came directly to me with it, instead of leaving me to find it out for myself, as some might have done. Next time you will be more careful and close the door, so that the wind cannot cause you trouble. If you have finished in the kitchen, you may take these letters to the post-box, and stop at the corner and order some berries for luncheon.”

Could she believe her ears? She was not to be whipped, nor scolded, nor shut up in her room, nor given just a crust of bread to eat! None of these things. Instead, she went out on her errands, and returned, and was treated quite as usual.

Never was a happier heart than Angela’s. It was actually pleasant to do right; one felt so glad over it. Yes, she could give up the fete, even, and be glad that she had told. Had not Mrs. Parker commended her?

In the evening, as she was going upstairs, Mrs. Parker said something about the basket she would need the next day for flowers. Angela stopped and turned, her great eyes looking larger than usual.

“Ma’am,” she said, “for flowers?”

“Why, yes, child, don’t you remember that you are each invited to bring a little basket for flowers, and roots that you can plant?”

“Oh, but, ma’am, I am not to go! Surely I am not to go!”

Mrs. Parker looked bewildered. “Why not?” she asked. “I thought you wanted of all things to go.”

“Oh, yes, ma’am, yes, indeed! But you forget the pitcher.”

“The idea!” said Ethel, before her mother could speak. “Did you suppose we would keep you away from the lawn party because you had an accident and broke a dish?”

“Mother,” said Ethel the next day, as they watched Angela making an eager dash down the street, arrayed in her white dress with pink ribbons, “the child must have had a very hard life before she came to this country. Fancy being whipped and fed on crusts and water, and not allowed to go anywhere, because she broke a plate! I wonder if all Italians are cruel?”

“The Italians do not know Christ,” said Mrs. Parker. “It is acquaintance with Him which makes people patient, and forgiving, and long suffering.”

“But all people who are not Christians are not unreasonable and cruel!”

“Oh, no; no, indeed! Some are very kind-hearted. But have you never wondered how much their surroundings and education in a Christian land, and the influence of Christian fathers and grandfathers had to do with their kind heartedness? In other words, we have Jesus Christ to thank for much that is not directly recognized as his work.”


Have a happy 4th of July celebration!

Off to Chautauqua!

27 Jun

The 2018 summer season at Chautauqua Institution opened on Saturday, June 23. Over the next ten weeks, travelers will be planning trips to the great summer assembly, either by car (using a GPS app on their phone for guidance), by air (landing at nearby Chautauqua County Airport at Jamestown), or train (Amtrack tickets can be purchased online or via a smart phone app).

Four ladies from Minnesota, ready to travel! (1920)

Travel to Chautauqua has changed a lot in the 142 years since Isabella Alden wrote Four Girls at Chautauqua. Back in 1876, the only way her lead characters in the story—Eurie, Ruth, Marion, and Flossy—could get to Chautauqua was by train. And preparing for their trip wasn’t as easy as tapping an icon on a smart phone.

Four young women walk to the train station in 1901

The first decision the ladies had to make was how much luggage to take. Practical Marion began the conversation:

“Ruth, are you going to take a trunk?”

Ruth roused herself from the contemplation of her brown gloves to say with a little start, “How you girls do rush things. Why, I haven’t decided yet that I am going.”

“Oh, you’ll go,” Marion Wilbur said. “The question is, are we to take trunks—or, rather, are you to? Because I know I shall not. I’m going to wear my black suit. Put it on on Tuesday morning—or Monday is it that we start?—and wear it until we return. I may take it off, to be sure, while I sleep, but even that is uncertain, as we may not get a place to sleep in; but for once in my life I am not going to be bored with baggage.”

“I shall take mine,” Ruth Erskine said with determination. “I don’t intend to be bored by being without baggage. It is horrid, I think, to go away with only one dress, and feel obliged to wear it whether it is suited to the weather or not, or whatever happens to it.”

An 1870 trade card for a dealer in trunks and valises.

The truth of the matter was that Marion—who barely supported herself on a teacher’s salary—didn’t own enough clothes to fill a travel trunk.

Besides, paying an expressman to deliver her trunk to the station, tipping baggage porters, and checking her trunk through to Chautauqua, was far beyond the cost of what Marion could afford.

A porter tends to a woman’s luggage and dog. (From a 1907 Tuck’s postcard)

As the eldest child of a hard-working doctor, Eurie Mitchell’s travel budget wasn’t much larger than Marion’s.

Ladies preparing to travel in 1915. (From the Indiana History Album)

Ruth Erskine and Flossy Shipley, on the other hand, were wealthy enough to insist on first-class accommodations in all her journeys. In all likelihood, they would have taken more than one trunk, each, as well as other pieces of luggage. Here’s why:

Luggage was much different in 1876 than the pull-suitcases and travel totes we use today.

Excerpt from an article in a 1906 issue of the Minneapolis Journal, illustrating the various types of trunks and cases needed to transport a lady traveler’s belongings.

For starters, different trunks or cases were made to accommodate different types of clothing and belongings.

For example, the average skirt of a woman’s dress in 1876 was made from about 8 to 10 (or more) yards of fabric. Underneath, women wore petticoats made up of an equal amount of material. These skirts, dresses, and undergarments took up a lot of room, and were usually packed in a dress trunk.

Dress trunks were made long and deep so skirts, petticoats, and dresses could be stored flat.

Shirtwaists, jackets, and suits went into a wardrobe trunk, where they could hang properly and minimize creasing and folds.

Wardrobe trunks, like this 1917 model, accommodated hanging garments like jackets and short coats. This particular wardrobe trunk would cost $701.16 in today’s money.

Hats and bonnets were transported in boxes designed to protect their shape and prevent damage to ornaments.

A standard hat box design for 1917. Adjusting for inflation, this hat box would cost $116.95 today.

Lotions and toiletries went into yet another case, fitted out with compartments for bottles and toothbrushes, and powders.

A trade card for a maker of trunks and valises, from about 1910.

Items a traveler might need to keep handy, such as clean handkerchiefs, fresh collars or cuffs, and possibly, a change of shirt waist, were carried in a valise or grip.

Trunks were sturdily built and meant to last a lifetime, despite rough treatment and wear and tear.

Some ladies also used tourist Cases to pack things to carry on the train and keep with them. Tourist cases looked very much like the small suitcases that were in use in the 1950s and 60s. The young women pictured in the photo below all have tourist cases (and one very large trunk!).

College students prepare to return home, about 1909.

For a lady traveling in the late 18th and early 19th century, traveling was not a casual business. It took planning, if she wanted to arrive at her destination looking fresh and effortlessly gowned.

Most hotels had carriages to transport guests and their small pieces of luggage to and from the train station. This 1890 photograph shows such a carriage, as well as a wagon convey trunks and heavy baggage, for a hotel in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

In 1904 The San Francisco Call newspaper published a full-page article on how to properly pack a trunk. The article was filled with plenty of practical, and not-so-practical, advice:

Making a trunk look nice is a distinct art.

A lady’s skirt should never have a front fold.

The author of the article was a professional packer of trunks. She tells the story of a phone call she received from a client:

“I want you to pack my trunks,” said she, “so I can catch the midnight train.”

“How many trunks are there?” I asked.

“There are twenty-seven,” said she, “and several boxes and suit cases, and the wagon is to call for them at five o’clock.”

Twenty-seven trunks! By comparison, Marion, Eurie, Ruth, and Flossy traveled light when they set off for Chautauqua!

You can read the full-page article “How to Pack a Trunk” by clicking here.

You can read all about the 2018 Chautauqua Institution summer program and events. Just click here.

And you can read previous posts about going to Chautauqua; just click on one of the links below:

A Tour of Chautauqua – Getting There

A Tour of Chautauqua – Where to Stay

A Tour of Chautauqua: Having Fun

A Tour of Chautauqua: Lectures and Classes

A Tour of Chautauqua: Palestine Park

A Tour of Chautauqua: A Healthy Body

A Tour of Chautauqua: The Teachers’ Retreat

 

We Heard You … and A New Free Read!

13 Jun

A few months ago, Mary (a reader of this blog) asked us to figure out a way to make Isabella’s Free Reads available so they could be read on her Kindle. Up until that point, we were publishing Isabella’s Free Reads only as Adobe PDF files.

A Good Idea

Mary’s suggestion made sense. After all, we’re living in the digital age; and since the goal of this website is to make it as easy as possible for readers to discover and enjoy Isabella’s books, we said:

“Challenge accepted!”

Four months later, we think we’ve come up with a solution.

Beginning today you’ll be able to download new Free Reads to your Nook, Kindle, iPad, or smart phone directly from BookFunnel!

And for those readers who like to view Isabella’s stories on their computer or print out a copy to share, you’ll still have the option to download an Adobe PDF file from BookFunnel, by choosing the “My Computer” option.

Ready to give BookFunnel a test drive?

Let’s kick things off with a story Isabella specifically wrote for children.

A New Free Read

Isabella delighted in teaching children important lessons from the Bible. Every issue of The Pansy, a bi-weekly magazine she edited and wrote for, included two or three children’s stories she wrote to convey Biblical truths in an entertaining way.

In 1889 her twelve-part story “Helen the Historian” appeared as a series in The Pansy. The story showcases Isabella’s skill in telling a Bible story as a child would tell it.

Here’s a short description of the the story:

Helen may be only eight years old, but she knows all about God’s love. She’s happiest on Sunday mornings when her young friends gather about her and listen to the Bible stories she tells. And maybe—if she tells the stories well enough—those Bible stories will make a difference in lives of her young friends, too.

Now you can read “Helen the Historian” for free!

Just click on the cover to be directed to BookFunnel, where you can download the story in the format of  your choice.

Happy reading!

An Important Privacy Note:

Depending on the format you choose when you download your copy of “Helen the Historian” from BookFunnel, you may be asked to enter your e-mail address.

You will enter your e-mail address strictly for the purpose of receiving your copy of the e-book. Neither BookFunnel nor IsabellaAlden.com will store, collect, or share your e-mail address at any time. If you would like to know more about our Privacy Policy and how it affects you, please click on the “Privacy Policy” tab in the menu bar at the top of this page.

 

Pansy’s Favorite Author: Susan Warner

6 Jun

Isabella Alden was a prolific author, a Sunday school teacher, a mother, and a dedicated minister’s wife who was devoted to the members of her husband’s congregation.

In the few leisure hours she had, she was a great reader, and one of her favorite authors was Susan Warner. Isabella was such a fan, she even mentioned Susan Warner’s books in her own novels.

For example, in her book What They Couldn’t, Professor Landis has his eye on his neighbor, Miss Mary Cameron.

He believes Mary to be a troubled young woman, whose face wears the clear signs of unrest. He wants to help her, but unhappy Mary avoids him as much as possible—until the day they meet by accident at the public library.

Professor Landis strikes up a conversation and asks Mary what books and authors she likes to read.

“Tell me if you ever indulge in one of my favorites. Do you read Miss Warner?”

The professor is, of course, talking about Susan Warner. Miss Warner’s first novel, The Wide, Wide World, was published in 1850, and told the story of young Ellen Montgomery, who must rely on her Christian faith when she is sent to live with unkind relatives who lead a more worldly lifestyle.

A well-worn and much read copy of The Wide, Wide World.

The Wide, Wide World was a run-away best-seller—a fact that’s even more remarkable when you consider that the book was published at a time when most people, women in particular, did not often read novels.

In Isabella’s novel What They Couldn’t, Mary Cameron considers herself too sophisticated to confess to enjoying the simple stories of Christian faith that Susan Warner wrote. She scoffs at the mention of Susan Warner’s name and repeats some of the criticisms Isabella often heard and read about Susan’s work:

“You cannot mean the old-fashioned Miss Warner, with her interminable ‘Wide, Wide World’ and ‘Queechy’ and ‘The Hills of —’ something or other!” she said.

“Ah, but I do! She is the very Miss Warner, with her ‘Say and Seal’ and her ‘Old Helmet,’ and all the other creations of her earnest brain. I am glad to find you familiar with her.”

“I am not. You give me too much credit. It was a spasm of my childhood, long since passed. Professor Landis, it is not possible that you can intend to seriously commend her writings!”

“Why not?”

“Because she is not worthy of it. From a literary point of view, which I supposed a teacher would feel bound to consider, I am sure she is of no account; and as for her characters — It is the same person always, whether in masculine or feminine dress, and the most improbable one imaginable.”

Susan Warner in an undated photograph.

When Isabella wrote those lines, she was repeating criticisms that had often been leveled against Susan Warner’s novels. Susan Warner’s books were regularly maligned by reviewers as old-fashioned, with weak, unnatural characters who were too good and perfect to be believed.

But then, Isabella did something remarkable. In What They Couldn’t she turns those criticisms around by having her character, Professor Landis, ask Mary Cameron this question about Susan Warner’s books:

“Are the characters you have mentioned better than the Pattern?”

“The pattern?” she repeated in genuine bewilderment. This young woman was so unused to meeting a religious thought in ordinary conversation that her mind did not take in his meaning.

“Yes, the Lord Jesus Christ. He came among us for that purpose, among others, you remember. Has Miss Warner succeeded in imagining a human being superior to him?”

“Of course not. But she has tried to make a human being like him; and that makes the whole unnatural.”

“I beg pardon, but what is a copy worth unless one strives to attain to it?”

Isabella understood Susan Warner’s reasons for writing her books as she did. Unlike other Christian authors of the same period, who wrote moralistic fiction, Susan Warner’s books were inspirational; Susan hoped to encourage readers not just to achieve salvation through Christ, but to emulate Christ in their every-day lives.

Isabella’s Inspiration

She certainly influenced Isabella. Isabella often used the same theme Susan Warner used in The Wide, Wide World—a child sent to live with strangers—in her own books.

One example is Line Bryant, who goes to live with a wealthy family in the city when a series of mishaps takes her far from home in Isabella’s novel Twenty Minutes Late. Although Line has been raised with good principles, she learns what it means to follow Christ by the example set by the family that takes her in.

Many of Isabella’s novels are based on that theme; The Man of the House and Reuben’s Hindrances are two other examples of stories involving children who learn from older friends or acquaintances about salvation through Jesus.

Susan’s Writing Career

Under the pen name “Elizabeth Wetherell” Susan Warner wrote about thirty novels, many of which were best-sellers and went into multiple editions.

One of those books was The Old Helmet, which remained popular for decades after its initial publication in 1864.

Thirty years later, Isabella mentioned The Old Helmet in her novel, Her Associate Members.

Once again, Isabella brought up the topic of Susan Warner’s books in a conversation between her heroine, Chrissy Holmes, and a friend from church:

“I am going to see if you do not, after all, like some of my favorites. Do you ever read Miss Warner’s books?”

“What has she written? I hardly ever notice the name of the author.”

“Miss Warner has written a large number of books. ‘The Hills of the Shatemuc’ was one of my favorites, and ‘The Old Helmet’ was another.”

In Isabella’s novel John Remington, Martyr, she described how John—newly ordained and assigned his first church—believed that the right books placed in the hands of his congregants could teach Christ’s principles just as well as any sermon he could deliver:

Great care was taken to select and circulate attractive religious books through the parish. And here one had need of great discernment to fit the right book or tract to the right person. If sure that James’ “Anxious Inquirer” or Baxter’s “Call” or Bunyan’s “Come and Welcome” would not be read by certain persons, then there was a wide field to choose from to secure an excellent religious story, from “Pilgrim’s Progress” down to Miss Warner’s “Queechy” and “Old Helmet.”

Isabella’s Flawed Characters

Isabella may have been inspired by Susan Warner’s books, but she did not copy them. One major difference between Isabella’s novels and Susan’s works was in the characters they each created.

Isabella wasn’t afraid to create a heroine who was less than perfect. In that way, her stories were probably more believable than Susan Warner’s, and her characters were more natural and relateable to readers of her time.

Susan Warner’s book My Desire provides an example. In the book, Miss Desire Burgoyne is just blossoming into Christian womanhood. She lives a quiet life in the country with one of her sisters; but when her wealthy eldest sister invites her to spend time with her in the city, Desire’s Christian faith is tested at every turn. Then she makes the acquaintance of Maxmillian Iredell, who is also a Christian. Soon, Desire finds herself falling in love for the first time, even as she must face one of the hardest tests for a Christian: forgiving the very person who cruelly betrayed her.

My Desire is a touching and heart-felt story, but critics once again claimed that Susan Warner made Desire Burgoyne a little too perfect to be believed.

Isabella had her own perfect characters. In The Chautauqua Series of books, Flossy Shipley is beautiful and wealthy, and she always knows exactly what to say and do. Just like Desire Burgoyne, Flossy’s new-found Christian faith is tested in many unforeseen ways when the people she loves most, wrong her. Luckily, Flossy meets godly Evan Roberts, who supports her in her Christian journey, and helps her forgive the people who tried to discourage her from following Christ.

Elsie Chilton contends with the same dilemma in Isabella’s novel, John Remington, Martyr. Elsie’s wealthy, influential father expects her to marry the man of his choice, even though Elsie is increasingly attracted to Earle Mason, a man dedicated to performing good works in Jesus’ name.

When Fiction Follows Fact

Isabella’s novel Interrupted is about a young woman named Claire Benedict. Born to wealth and privilege, Claire is forced to go to work to avoid living in poverty when her father encounters financial hardships and dies unexpectedly.

That story is very much like the story of Susan Warner’s life.

Undated photo of Susan Warner in her later years.

Susan and her sister Anna were born in New York (which is also Isabella’s home state) to wealthy parents. But when her father suffered significant financial losses, they sold their mansion in town and moved to an old farmhouse on Constitution Island, near West Point.

The Warner home on Constitution Island.

The change was a hard one for the family. They no longer had household servants and coachmen to see to their needs and drive them about. They no longer shopped at expensive stores and mingled with the cream of society. Instead, they had to learn to make their own clothes and grow their own food.

Susan and her younger sister Anna did not suffer their hardships alone; the sisters became devout Christians and sought ways to serve Christ in their everyday lives. They began to hold Bible studies for cadets at the nearby United States Military Academy. They continued those Bible studies with the cadets for over forty years.

Susan Warner and a few of the cadets she taught.

Susan also began to express her Christian faith with her pen. It was while she was living on Constitution Island that Susan wrote The Wide, Wide World. The book was published in 1850 and became an instant run-away best seller.

Two years later she published Queechy. Elizabeth Barrett Browning and George Eliot were outspoken fans of the book.

She went on to write about thirty novels, including The Hills of Shatemuc (in 1856), The Old Helmet (1863), Daisy (1868), Pine Needles (1877), My Desire (1879), and The End of a Coil (1880), just to name a few.

When Susan Warner died in 1885, West Point honored her by ensuring she was buried on the grounds of the military academy, along with America’s most respected military leaders, historic heroes, astronauts, and Medal of Honor recipients.

The graves of Susan Warner (left) and her sister Anna (right) at the West Point Cemetery.

Fittingly, Susan and her sister Anna are interred next to the Cadet Monument in a quiet corner of the cemetery.

The Cadet Monument at West Point Cemetery.

The military academy also ensured Susan’s home on Constitution Island was preserved, after the Warner sisters willed the land and house to West Point. Today the home is a museum that houses many artifacts related to Susan’s life and work.


Did you know you can read many of Susan Warner’s books for free?

Amazon has many of Susan Warner’s novels available as free e-books, and you don’t have to own an Amazon Kindle to read them! Click here to see a full list of her available novels in print and e-book formats.

Barnes and Noble also has many Susan Warner e-books priced as low as 99 cents. Click here to see a complete list.


More about Susan Warner

You can read more about Susan Warner’s interesting life and discover how her family home became a popular museum by visiting this website:

ConstitutionIsland.org

There’s also a Wikipedia page dedicated to Susan Warner, which you can find here:

Wikipedia.org

And this article describes Susan’s loving and faithful ministry to the young cadets at West Point:

Heroes, Heroines, and History

Finally, this website gives examples of the many fan letters Susan Warner received from readers of her novel, The Wide, Wide World:

Common-Place.org


Have you read any of Susan Warner’s books?

How do you think they compare to Isabella Alden’s novels? Which Susan Warner book is your favorite? Please share your thoughts!

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Don’t Miss Out!

29 May

Isabella Alden’s Facebook page features daily posts about Isabella’s life, her books, and the times in which she lived.

Please join us on Facebook, “Like” Isabella’s page, and you’ll never miss a post!

 

Remember the Fallen

28 May

On this Memorial Day we remember the fallen and the sacrifices they—and their families—made for us.

Champions of the Union, 1865

New Free Read: The Doctor’s Story

15 May

This month’s Free Read is “The Doctor’s Story” by Isabella Alden.

When the Reverend Joseph Mentor tells his young visitor, Frank Horton, a story from his past, he does so with a purpose. Dr. Mentor believes every good Christian can and should find work to do in the Lord’s House; it’s just a matter of finding the right niche for each person. The question is, can they find the right niche for Frank Horton?

Simply scroll down to begin reading the story, or click on the book cover to read, save or print the story in PDF format.

The Doctor’s Story

“I want to tell you a story, young man.”

The speaker was the Reverend Joseph Mentor, D. D., a gray-haired, keen-eyed, large-brained, sweet-faced, grand old Christian. He sat in his own parlor, which was not a parlor, after all, but a sort of study; lined with books on every hand, almost crowded with easy chairs; convenient little writing tables occupying cozy corners, with all the appurtenances thereto lavishly furnished, coaxing the privileged guest to write his letters, or arrange his neglected accounts, or read items from the various journals of the day at his elbow, as his taste might dictate.

The present occupants of the room were three; the aforesaid doctor, leaning back at rest in his favorite study chair—his life had been a long, grand one, and if ever a disciple of the Master could afford to rest on earth, the Reverend Joseph Mentor might have claimed the privilege; yet his very rest was active. The doctor’s son, a young man of twenty-five or so, now co-pastor, who had excused himself to their guest in the manner that one may treat guests who are almost as much at home as they are themselves—on the plea that there were two important letters to answer for the evening mail—and then had turned to one of the writing tables, leaving his father to entertain the young man with a pale face and scholarly air, who sat in a half-dejected attitude in the straight-backed, old-fashioned chair near the doctor. It was to him that the old gentleman had turned with the apparently abrupt statement:

“I want to tell you a story, young man!’

That the young man would be glad to hear any story that Doctor Mentor might choose to honor him with was evident from the flash of his eyes and the instant look of interest that overspread his face.

Then the doctor began: “About a month ago I attended the funeral of a man in whom I have taken a deep interest all my life. He was an old man, and a plain man all his long life; yet, though I have attended a great many funerals in the last half century, I don’t think I ever saw a greater uprising of the people to offer the last tribute of respect and affection to a plain man in their midst. I want to tell you a little about that man. Miller, his name was, Daniel Miller. He was older than I, and in my young days I used to watch him from his pew in the church. I liked his face, even then, before I knew him; a grave, half-sad face, yet never gloomy—only a look of patient resignation to the inevitable. A Christian man he was, one of the sterling sort. Talk with anybody in that town about him and they would pay almost instant tribute to his sterling worth and almost always close with, ‘What a pity that such a good man as he is should be so hard of hearing.’

“That was his trouble, and a great trouble it was. I suppose it was the means of breaking in pieces a number of plans of his youth. Well, the thought was written all over his patient, sad face: ‘I am hard of hearing and growing worse. It destroys my usefulness, it hinders my work in every direction, it makes me appear unsocial and unsympathetic. In short, it is a burden hard to be borne.’ As I watched him, I could see that this feeling grew upon him; grew with his infirmity, and that progressed quite rapidly.

“You have no idea, I suppose, what a drawback it was to him on all occasions. It got so that he didn’t dare to open his lips in the prayer meeting. He would look all around him to see whether anybody was speaking, but some of the members had a way of keeping their seats when they talked, so he found that he couldn’t tell by their position, and once or twice he arose and began to pray when someone was talking; he was a different man, and it embarrassed him dreadfully. Then he used to say that he never knew whether what he had to offer was in line with what had been said or was very wide of the mark; and if the minister asked him to pray, he had to shout out the request, and sometimes poor Mr. Miller couldn’t hear it, and his wife would have to give his elbow a nudge and lean over and whisper to him loud enough for all the house to hear, ‘He wants you to lead in prayer!’

“It was a real embarrassment all around. People didn’t wonder that he gradually grew into the feeling that he couldn’t take part very often in religious meetings, though I never thought that was right. I always believed that his prayers would be in line with what the Lord wanted to have said and that he would be safe enough whether he followed the line of the others or not.

“So it went on, Daniel Miller growing deafer and deafer, and the patient, sad look on his face deepening, and the feeling growing in his heart that he wasn’t of any use to the church of Christ that he loved with all his soul.

“One day somebody in that church had an inspiration. ‘I tell you what it is,’ one of the members said, bringing down his doubled-up fist on the seat before him for emphasis, ‘I believe we ought to make Daniel Miller our treasurer. That thing would suit him, and he is just the man to do the work.’

“‘But Daniel Miller is so deaf,’ objected one. ‘He grows worse and worse; I notice that his wife always has to find the hymns for him, and the place in the Bible, and point to the text!’

“‘What if he is deaf?’ said his champion. ‘A man doesn’t have to hear in order to add money and keep accounts, and make out bills and send them out, and keep everything straight. I believe it is work that he could do, and I believe it would do him good; make him feel that he can do something for the church, and that we have confidence in him. I tell you what it is, brethren, I’m going to propose his name at our next election.’

“Well, he was as good as his word, and sure enough, all the people said ‘Amen.’ They did it with so much enthusiasm and with such a look on their faces that said, ‘What a splendid idea! I wonder we never thought of it before,’ that there was quite an excitement, and Mrs. Miller looked about her, and the tears began to gather in her eyes, and she put her head down suddenly on the seat in front of her. She was a grand, good woman—a helpmate to her good husband in every sense of the word.

“Well, Daniel Miller looked around with that meek, inquiring look on his face, a little troubled, as much as to say, ‘Are you having a good time, brethren, or is there something going on in the Lord’s house that oughtn’t to be? I’m jealous for his honor; I hope all is well.’

“The chairman got out of his chair of office and went down the aisle, bent over Mr. Miller, and said in a good, loud voice, ‘You have been elected our church treasurer by a unanimous vote.’

“You ought to have seen his face then; it was a picture. It flushed and glowed, and his eyes grew dim, and his lips quivered, and it seemed for a minute that he couldn’t speak at all. Then he stammered out something about not being fitted for the work—his infirmity being so great; he wished he could do something, he would be glad to if he could, but maybe it was a risk to try it.

“Then the chairman put down his mouth to his ear again and called out, ‘We all stand ready to go your security, every one of us.’

“And then, sir, if you will believe it, that decorous assembly, made up of a class of people who believed every one of them is doing things decently and in order, just clapped their hands, and he understood it, and he got out his handkerchief very suddenly. You never saw anything work more like a charm than that arrangement did all around.

“Daniel Miller took hold of the work with a will, I tell you, and the work was never better done. His ‘infirmity’ as he always meekly called it, was a positive advantage to him. There wasn’t any use in trying to tell him how the accounts stood, or explain away this or that; he couldn’t hear; it all had to be reduced to writing. And when a man sits down in quiet to make a written account of anything that another man is expected to fully understand, why he uses language carefully, don’t you see? You don’t suppose they were foolish enough when his year was out to go and put in another treasurer, do you? Not a bit of it; the machine was running too smoothly. They elected him again by as large a vote as before.

“‘It does my heart good,’ one old lady said, ‘to see Daniel Miller go up for the collections on Sunday. He does it with such a glad look on his face, as if he had found out something he could do for the church and do well.’

“He did it well, too; no mistakes. By and by he began to send out little notes with his bills: ‘We owe it to our pastor to pay his quarter’s salary on the day promised.’ Well, sir, when the next quarter’s salary was paid the morning of the day on which it was due, without having been asked for or run after, that minister thought the millennium was about to dawn! He hadn’t been used to that sort of thing. You never saw anything like the promptness with which pew rents were paid in the church. If a man was twenty-four hours behind time, he was almost sure to receive a call from Mr. Miller; no writing notes this time. That man understood human nature well. Just imagine a gentleman standing in his store or office and trying to carry on a conversation with Daniel Miller about not having paid his pew rent. ‘Money has been a little short with me lately’ he begins, ‘and I thought a few days’ delay—’

“‘What is it?’ interrupts Daniel with his hand to his ear. ‘I’m hard of hearing, you know; speak a little louder, please.’

“Do you suppose that man is going to yell out for the benefit of the passersby that he is a little short of money and had deliberately planned a few days’ delay for his minister? The way it worked was for him to scream out, ‘You shall have the money at noon today, Mr. Miller.’ Very likely he grumbled that he wouldn’t get caught in that trap again, and he didn’t. People didn’t enjoy calls from Daniel Miller when they owed the church any money. I watched that thing with the greatest interest. It grew all the time. It made a wonderful difference in Daniel’s life; he kept his head straighter and walked faster on the street. The church was large, and there was a good deal of business to be transacted, and Daniel had no temptation to brood over his infirmity. Then he knew just what was going on, just what the church gave to Foreign Missions, and Home Missions, and all benevolences. He had no need any more to wonder painfully what was being done, and after hesitating over it a good while, make up his mind to ask somebody and feel sorry for them all the time to think they had to answer him. Instead, people had to come to him for information. Nothing could be paid for, not a cent of money could be sent anywhere or done anything with unless the thing passed through Daniel Miller’s hands. And I tell you, the treasurer’s reports of that church were curiosities; they were managed with such exactness and clearness. He had a little witch of a daughter—Nettie her name was, as pretty as a picture.

“Do you remember her, my son?”

“Yes, sir, distinctly,” came promptly from the table where the son was writing letters.

And the doctor continued, “Her father made her his clerk almost as soon as she could talk plainly and began to train her up to business habits and business terms; he took her with him a good deal. ‘Daniel Miller’s ears’ we used to call the bright little thing; and she was as bright as a diamond. We used to notice that Daniel could hear to the last better than anybody else, even his wife. ‘She’s got a voice like an angel,’ he said to me once. ‘I know by her that I shall be able to hear the angels.’

“His hearing grew steadily worse. For a good many years he was able to hear some of the sermon, the loud parts as he used to call them, but, by degrees, he lost the power of doing that. ‘Did you hear?’ the minister would shout at him after service as he came up for the collection. He would shake his head, but his eyes would look bright as he answered, ‘No, sir, not with my ears; but I’ve got it here.’ And he would lay his hand on his great, noble heart. It was true, too, and he went out and lived it a great deal better than many who heard everything. You must understand, young man, that I am covering a good deal of ground with this long story. The years went by, and at each election Daniel Miller was reinstated, until at last that congregation would have laughed in the face of any man who had suggested a change. ‘What should we do without Daniel Miller?’ That is as near as they ever came to mentioning the time when they might have to do without him; and the time came when they said that in lowered tones and with a hint of tears, for he was growing to be an old man, and the church couldn’t afford to lose him.

“Bless you! I hope you don’t think that keeping the finances of the church straight was all the man did? It would take all night to tell you half the things that grew out of it; and then it wouldn’t be told; it can’t be. The Lord of the vineyard is the only one who has the whole story. I told you he took to writing little marginal readings on the church bills and receipts. Well, is there any reason why marginal readings on church bills can’t be about other matters than money? The ‘words in season’ that this deaf man spoke in this way in quiet hours to one and another of the flock, and the fruit they bore, I know something of—a good deal of, in fact; but, as I tell you, the Master is the only one who has the entire record.

“One night he had a new idea, or rather he worked out what was to him an old idea. He went on Saturday evening to the parsonage with the quarter’s salary; he apologized for intruding on Saturday, but said he, ‘According to date this money should be paid tomorrow morning, and of course I couldn’t do that, so I made bold to come tonight.’

“Well, he happened to be one of those men who never intrude on a pastor, no matter what time they come; so his pastor told him he was glad to see him and would talk with him while he finished and put up his sermon; but Daniel didn’t seem to want to talk; he watched that sermon with a curious, wistful air. At last he spoke, ‘I’ve been turning a ridiculous idea over in my mind for a long time; I don’t suppose it could be done, but I’ve thought sometimes that I would just like to try an experiment and read over one of your sermons before you preached it and see if I couldn’t follow you from the pulpit better after that.’ It was a queer notion, but it took the pastor’s fancy The fact was, he loved Daniel Miller so much that almost anything he said took his fancy, and he handed over the sermon and told the old gentleman to try it, by all means, he could have it as well as not. It would have done your heart good to see Daniel Miller’s radiant face the next day. ‘It worked, sir, it worked!’ he said to the pastor, and he rubbed his hands together like a gleeful boy. ‘I could follow you right along a good piece at a time/’ If you’ll believe it, that thing grew into a regular custom; the pastor had a boy, a bright enough fellow, who was always ready to scamper over to Daniel Miller’s with the sermon on Saturday nights as soon as the minister could spare it and wait while Daniel Miller went over it. Fact is, as the years went by, he was more willing to do that than any other errand the father could get up, and he and Nettie went over church accounts and some other accounts together many a Saturday night. But I happen to know that the pastor came to have a queer feeling that he couldn’t preach a sermon until Daniel Miller went over it! That might be in part because he discovered that the old man had a way of going over it on his knees, and every sentence he came to that seemed to him ought to do a certain person any good, he would pray, ‘Lord, bless that to John Satkins: and so on, you know. Little Nettie, she let that secret out to the boy one night; and the minister came to feel that Daniel Miller was the associate pastor and was praying the sermon into the hearts of the people all the time it was being preached. When a minister really feels that, he preaches carefully, I believe.

“Well, sir, it was a wonderful life; and when it ended, as I tell you it did a little more than a month ago, I never saw anything like the demonstration; and I didn’t wonder at it. Twenty-nine years they had elected that man to office, and the Lord had elected him to a much higher office here on earth; his little notes bore a big harvest; and when the Lord called him to his seat in the church triumphant, the church on earth looked around for someone on whom his mantle could fall, and I tell you it seemed for a time impossible to do without him. Why, I moderated the meeting for them when they met to try to fill his place, and they just spent the first half hour in tears and praying! Such lives tell. ‘Infirmity,’ indeed! God grant us more men like Daniel Miller.”

“What became of Nettle and the boy? Did they get their accounts all settled?” It was the first time the intent listener had interrupted the old Doctor’s vivid story. Indeed, it could not be called an interruption now, for the doctor had paused and let his thoughts run back into the tender past. He roused himself with the question and laughed a little.

“How is it, my son?” he asked, looking over toward the writing table. “Have you and Nettie finished the accounts, or are they open yet?”

“We mean to keep them open, sir, until we join the ‘church triumphant.’ The young man answered quickly, albeit his voice was husky, and he brushed his hand hastily over dim eyes. Then he turned to the guest.

“My father has given you a true picture of my father-in-law’s fruitful life; as good a picture as can be drawn on the moment; but it is as he says, no one can tell the story in its fullness. I think we shall have a wonderful account of it someday.”

There was silence in the pleasant room for a few moments. Then the guest turned to Doctor Mentor. “Thank you,” he said brightly, “thank you very much; they say that ‘a word to the wise is sufficient,” and he stammered as he tried to speak; then he arose to go.

“Father,” said the son, returning from seeing the guest to the door and stopping for a moment before his father, “do you think Frank Horton is in danger of becoming deaf? Or is it because he stammers, or just what is the hidden purpose of the story?”

“Well,” said the doctor, “I told him that story because he is like Moses, ‘slow of speech and slow of tongue.’ I think he caught the lesson and will put it into practice. I am told that he is a very bright, earnest Christian, but that he broods over his infirmity and is very sad; you can see it in his countenance. There is a niche for him, just where, perhaps, the infirmity will tell for God’s glory. Look at your father-in-law. I tell you there is a defect in most lives, an ‘infirmity’ of some sort that grace must supplement. It is not for us to fold our hands and say; ‘What a pity!’ but to help find the niche where the marble fits. Mr. Horton is like Daniel Miller. He could not be a good Sunday school teacher, or elder, or minister, but he can do something.”

The End

Did you enjoy this story? Please feel free to share it!

Writer Jenny Berlin

Faith, romance, and a place to belong

The Hall in the Grove

Author of Classic Christian Fiction

Isabella Alden

Author of Classic Christian Fiction

Britt Reads Fiction

Reviews and giveaways for Christian fiction. Bringing readers information on great stories and connecting authors with their readers.

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