Tag Archives: Bible Verse

A Dozen of Them – Chapter 3

12 Jan

Here’s the next installment of A Dozen of Them by Isabella Alden. If you missed chapters 1 and 2, you can read them here.

A Dozen of Them

Chapter 3




There was a broad smile on Joseph’s face; he was fully satisfied with his verse for the month.

In the first place, it was very short—only five words; in the second place, he had no brother, so it was not possible for it to get him into what he called “scrapes,” by living up to it.

Now you know which verse it is? Yes; that is the very one: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Yet the New Year’s Eve frolic was not over before he found the verse fitted in. They were having a tableau party, and Joseph was dressed in an extraordinary manner—like a youthful musician of the olden time. Mrs. Calland had managed—nobody but she knew how—to arrange for him a most remarkable wig of soft curling hair; the mustache part was easy; a little burnt cork settled that. Then there was little Fannie Stuart and her brother Rex dressed surprisingly!

It was just as all the toilets were completed and Mrs. Calland was ready to arrange her living picture behind the curtain, that Joseph’s verse came into prominence.

I am not sure that he would have thought of it in just the way he did, had it not been for Mrs. Calland’s remark as she finished arranging Rob Walker’s cloak. Rob Walker was a day scholar who had been invited to the evening’s fun because they were sorry for him; as he was at his uncle’s, more than a thousand miles away from home, during this holiday time. He was another musician, representing a different style of dress, and Mrs. Calland, as she fastened the wide collar about his neck, had said:

“Why, how this dress changes one’s appearance! You and Joseph would pass for brothers, now.”

After which, Rob, much amused, had called his companion “Brother Joseph.”

It was while she was bending over Rex that there fell from Mrs. Calland’s own collar a gleaming pin which Joseph did not know was a diamond; but he knew it was beautiful, and very much beloved by Mrs. Calland. He knew, too, in less than five seconds after its fall, what became of it.

Rob, the almost stranger among them, also saw it fall, gave a swift glance about the room to see if others were looking, then stooped and put the gleaming thing in his pocket, and said not a word!

How utterly astonished and dismayed was Joseph! He could not go on with his part, and took such stupid positions instead of the right one, as to make the others laugh, and to call from Mrs. Calland the question:

“Why, Joseph, what has happened to you? Are you taking a nap?”

“Brother Joseph, you must do better than that, or I’ll disown you,” said Rob good-naturedly.

“Brother Joseph!” The words chimed in with the boy’s thoughts. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Something seemed asking Joseph that question.

Unless you are the sort of boy who can understand it without explanation, I don’t know that I can help you to feel how dreadfully Joseph hated to meddle with this matter. It was so uncomfortable to think of going to Mrs. Calland with tales about another boy! He knew just how grave she looked when any of the scholars pointed out the faults of others. And such a fault! Did Rob really mean to steal?

If so, the owner ought certainly to be told; yet perhaps Rob meant only a little mischief, and would give the pin back in a little while; in which case, how very mean he, Joseph, should feel to have been tale-bearer. But then, on the other hand, what if Rob shouldn’t give it back?

“I don’t care,” said Joseph to himself; “what business is it of mine, anyhow? I didn’t take it, and I am not supposed to know anything about it. What is Rob Walker to me?”

Am I my brother’s keeper?

It startled Joseph to think the verse seemed to fit what he was planning. If the truth must be told, one grave fault of this boy, Joseph, was to shirk responsibility. Besides, he had the fault common to many good-hearted boys; he hated to be called a “tell-tale;” hated it to such a degree that it was hard work for him to tell, even when he felt sure that telling was duty.

There was much thinking, and there were also many blunders, over which the young people had great merriment, before Joseph finally reached the point:

“I don’t care, I’m going to tell her. If she thinks it’s mean I can’t help it; if she thinks I don’t do it with the right feeling, I can’t help that either: I believe I ought to tell. That little old verse of mine will go and choke me if I don’t; and Rob, maybe, will choke me if I do; but I can stand his choking better than the other. Who would have thought there would be a place for that verse to fit in?”

With Joseph, to decide, was to perform. Very grave indeed Mrs. Calland looked when she bent her head and received the hurriedly whispered story.

Still, her words encouraged him: “You did just right, Joseph, to speak to me quietly. Don’t mention it to any person; we will both be quiet and I will decide what to do.”

But Joseph remained sober all the rest of the evening.

You may imagine he was on the alert when, nearly two hours afterwards, as they were making ready for the closing tableau, Addie Fowler suddenly said, “Sister Kate, you have lost your pin!”

Everybody but Joseph looked at Mrs. Calland; he looked down on the floor, and felt his face grow red.

“I know it,” said Mrs. Calland quietly. “It has been gone for some time. I must have dropped it early in the evening.”

There was an instant bustle of looking for the pin, but it was Rob Walker’s voice stopped them:

“I know where it is; I guess you will find it in the Italian musician’s pocket; those fellows are always thieves.”

Then you should have seen the red in Joseph’s face. He looked over at Mrs. Calland, now, in a helpless, pitiful sort of way, which made some of the scholars say in whispers:

“Why, would you think it possible! I would never believe it if he didn’t show it in his face at this minute!”

At the same time, the poor fellow dived both hands into his pockets and drew out, sure enough, the gleaming thing; whereat Rob laughed loud and long. But no one else did.

What a “scrape” for a boy to get into! What in the world was he to do? What would Mrs. Calland do or think? Would she possibly think he stole it, and then tried to palm the theft off on Rob? Hark! What was that she was saying in her quiet voice:

“Never mind laughing any more, Robert; we will not keep the company waiting for the closing tableau; but by and by you shall tell me why you picked up my pin, carried it in your pocket for nearly an hour, then slipped it slyly into Joseph’s pocket. You must have had some reason for it all; remember, I saw you do it,” continued Mrs. Calland; then added, “but we will not keep our guests waiting longer, now. Get your places, girls.”

“I don’t believe I could have thought you would steal it, my dear boy,” said Mrs. Calland to Joseph, late that night, when at last she was alone with him for a moment in the kitchen. “I don’t think I could look into your honest eyes and imagine such a thing; but of course what you told me, put me on my guard and prepared me to watch poor Rob. So, you see, your verse saved yourself, and will be helpful to him in the end. I think the boy means only mischief; but it is mischief of a very malicious kind, which might have brought trouble upon you. I think you ought to thank sister Jean in your next letter, for suggesting such a shield for her brother.”

From which you will understand that Joseph had also confided to Mrs. Calland the story of the verse.

Chapter 4 will post on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. See you then!

A Dozen of Them – Chapter 2

10 Jan

Here’s the next installment of A Dozen of Them by Isabella Alden. If you missed Chapter 1, you can read it here.

A Dozen of Them

Chapter 2




It gave Joseph a curious sensation to hear his verse sung over and over again by the choir, the great organ rolling out the melody and seeming to him to speak the words almost as distinctly as the voices did. He had chosen that first verse as his motto for the month, with a dim idea that it somehow fitted Christmas, though he couldn’t have told why he thought so. It was sufficiently unpractical not to disturb his conscience, at least; and of this he thought with satisfaction. It would not do to have to live by so many verses. That last month’s selection, “Feed my lambs,” had perfectly amazed him with its power to keep him busy. It was not only little Rettie, always on hand to be amused, or petted, or helped, in some way, but it was the little neighbor boy who followed his brother when he came for milk; and the little Irish girl who cried over her spelling lesson; and the little Dutch boy whom some of them made fun of, in Sunday-school. Many a time during the month, Joseph had sighed a little, and smiled a little, over the bondage in which that verse held him and had got to hold him for a whole year, and he wondered if Jean had known what she was about. At least he must know what he was about; another verse of that kind would not do to follow soon. This one was grand and majestic, ever so far above him; it was not to be supposed that he could in any way join that wonderful army who were praising. Joseph listened to it with a curious mixture of awe over the grandeur, and satisfaction that it was his, and did not trouble him.


He was seated in the great church, and it was Christmas Eve. The children’s anthem was being sung first by the choir, then by a troop of children who appeared to catch the strain and re-echo it as far as their shrill young voices could reach. This was the closing anthem of the evening.

It had been a very nice evening to Joseph. He had taken part in the recitation, and his teacher had whispered, “Well done, Joseph,” when he took his seat.

He had mounted little Rettie on his knee, the better to view the great Christmas-tree, thereby winning a smile and a “Thank you, Joseph!” from Mrs. Calland.

He had answered to his name when called, and received a handsome Bible from his teacher; altogether he had never spent a happier Christmas Eve. He saw himself writing a letter to his sister to tell all about it; and just then that anthem burst forth. Then the minister arose to pronounce the benediction. But instead of doing it, he made a little speech.


“Children,” he said, “I heard one of you call the anthem a grown-up anthem. I asked what that meant, and the little fellow who said so, told me it wasn’t for boys and girls, but for angels, and such things. That is a mistake. It is for you and me; you at four, and I at forty, and all the rest of you who are all the way between. ‘Blessing and honor;’ suppose we go no farther than that. Can’t we bless Him? Can’t we say thank you to the Lord for all his mercies? And can’t we honor Him? Don’t you remember that every little thing we do, or keep from doing, because we think it would please Him, is an honor to Him?”

There was more to the talk; not much, though, for the minister knew better than to make a long talk on Christmas Eve. But, bless you, it was long enough for Joseph! It came over him with a dismayed sort of feeling, that with all his care he had chosen a verse which was going to hedge him about worse than the other had. “Every little thing we do, or keep from doing. Oh, dear!” he said, and was startled to discover that he almost said it aloud. “A fellow gets all mixed up with verses and things, and can’t stir. I wish Jean had been asleep when she made me promise.”

However, he got through Christmas day beautifully. It happened that every duty of his that day had to do with what he liked, and was no trouble at all. It was mere fun to sweep the light snow from the front walk in the clear sparkling morning. It was simply delight to hitch up the ponies and go to the depot for company who were coming to the farm to dinner. He liked nothing better than to turn pony himself, and give Bettie a ride on her box sled; and so through the day everything was merry and happy. I am not sure that he thought of his verse more than once; that was when they were seated at the beautiful dinner table and a sentence of thanksgiving in the blessing reminded him of it. Not unpleasantly; he found that he felt very thankful indeed, and would just as soon say, “I thank you,” as not. If that was what the verse meant by “blessing” he was more than willing.

In the evening the school-tree was to be enjoyed, and none looked forward to it more than Joseph. For the past two days the schoolroom door had been shut against them all, and speculation had run high as to what glories it would reveal when next it opened for them. The time was drawing near; Joseph came with a bound from across the hall at Farmer Fowler’s bidding, to see if the kitchen doors were closed against the wind which was rising. He had heard the call to open the schoolroom doors; in ten minutes more all the mysteries hidden therein would be revealed.

In the middle of the kitchen he stood still. I am not sure but it would be very near the truth to say that his heart stood still as well as his body. The door leading into the dining-room was open, and in the great dining-room fireplace there crackled, and blazed, and roared a freshly adjusted log, sending up flames which lighted the entire room as with sunlight glory. But the fire did more than glow and sparkle, it snapped—sent out spitefully across the room regular showers of brilliant sparks, lighting, some of them, on the cedar with which the mantel was trimmed. Joseph sprang to them before they did mischief, then stood again as if rooted to the spot. A fresh log, very large, one of the sputtering kind, and it would sputter in that way, sending out its showers of dangerous sparks for a half-hour at least—longer than that—until all the fun in the schoolroom was well over.


What of it all? What concern was it of his? He didn’t put the log on. He had never been set to watch the dining-room fire. No; but what was that? “Blessing, and honor, and glory!” Well, what of it? What had blessing, and honor, and glory, to do with a few sparks which might not do a bit of harm if left to themselves? Sparks almost always died out if left alone.

What was that he said? “Every little thing we do or keep from doing, because we think it would please Him, is an honor to Him.”

Dear, dear! Why need the minister have said that? It wasn’t talk for Christmas Eve! And was it to be supposed that he, Joseph, who had never belonged to a family Christmas-tree before in his life, could stay out there and watch sparks while all the fun was going on? He really couldn’t.

Hark! Listen to that shouting! The fun had begun; he must go this minute. Wait! Look at that spark! It had lighted on the tissue-paper mat on the lamp-stand; it was going to burn! It will burn, it will blaze and set the house on fire! No, it won’t; the wicked and industrious little sprite has been firmly crushed in Joseph’s fingers, and has died, and left only a sooty fleck on the whiteness to tell of its intentions. But Joseph turned from it, and sat down in the big wooden rocker, near the snapping log, his face sorrowful and determined.

There was no help for it. The fun must go on, and the snapping must go on, and he must sit and watch it. “Every little thing we keep from doing.” He could keep from going into the schoolroom, and he knew it would please Him.

“Because,” said Joseph scornfully, to the log, “any idiot would know it was the right thing to do. You are not to be trusted, you snapping old thing, and you have got to be watched.” Why, then, he was bound to do it, because he had promised to be led by the verse of his choice. “It’s enough sight worse than the other one,” he told the log mournfully, meaning the other verse; and then he kept watch in silence. No more sparks made even an attempt to do any harm, which Joseph considered mean in them after having obliged him to stay and watch them. They might at least have given him the excitement of undoing their mischief. He even meditated deserting them as past the dangerous point, but just then a perfect shower blazed out into the room, and though they every one died out before they settled, Joseph told them that was no sign of what they might choose to do next time.

At last there came a prolonged shout from the distant schoolroom, mingled with the opening of doors, and the hurrying of eager feet and cries of:

“Where is he? Where’s Joseph?”

“Why, where in the world can Joseph be!” And the dining-room was peopled with eager searchers, among whom came Farmer Fowler.

“Why, my boy,” he said, as Joseph arose from the rocker, “what in the world does this mean? Haven’t you been in at the fun, after all? We didn’t notice until your name was called. Why weren’t you there?”

“I had to watch the sparks,” said Joseph, pointing to the snapping log. And then I am glad to state that those sparks did show a little sense of decency, and coming out in a perfect shower, lighted on the other tissue-paper mat, and Joseph had to suit the action to the word, and spring to its rescue.

“Well, I never!” said Fanner Fowler.

“I really think that is remarkable,” said Mrs. Calland. But whether they meant the sparks, or the log, or the tissue-paper mat, none of them explained.

And then all the children talked at once.

“Why, you had a hand-sled!” said one.

“A perfect beauty!” exclaimed another.

“One of the boss kind!” explained a third. “And it has your name on it in red letters.”

“Come on in and see it!” Whereupon the troop vanished with Joseph at their heels. He thought he could safely leave the sparks to Farmer Fowler’s care for awhile.


“Father,” said Mrs. Calland, “I think that is a very remarkable boy; I wish you would let me have him. I believe Harry would take him into the office.”

“We’ll wait and see whether you can do better by him than I,” said Farmer Fowler, his eyes twinkling. “I think your mother has plans for him. Well, mother, I don’t know but he saved the old farmhouse for us tonight. That log is uncommon snappy. He is an unusual boy, somehow, and no mistake.”

“I told you so from the first,” said Mother Fowler, looking as pleased as though he was her son.

But Joseph knew nothing about this, and, in fact, had forgotten all about his verse. He was examining his new sled, and thinking how he would describe it to Jean when he wrote.

Chapter 3 will be posted on Thursday, January 12, 2017. See you then!

A Woman’s Voice

3 Feb

Colored drawing of a country church displayed above the word Prayer In her memoirs, Isabella Alden wrote about the first time her father and mother visited her after she was married. It happened when Isabella’s minister husband was new to his church and was working hard to make the Wednesday prayer meetings a success. He wanted the prayer meeting attendees to participate, so on Sunday mornings he would announce from the pulpit the topic for the Wednesday meeting. He asked everyone to come on Wednesday with a Bible verse that supported or illustrated the topic.

One Tuesday, Isabella’s mother and father arrived unexpectedly for a visit. The next evening Isabella proudly escorted her parents to the church and sat beside her father as her husband, Reverend Alden, led the prayer meeting. But something happened that forced her to make a terrible choice.

Her father had always strongly opposed women speaking in public and that opposition extended to prayer meetings.

Yet Isabella had prepared a Bible verse to recite aloud if necessary to help and support her husband. None of the other attendees were responding to Reverend Alden’s call to participate and an uncomfortable silence stretched on for several minutes. Isabella wrote:

“I sat in distressed silence for several minutes; so did everybody else. Suddenly I looked at my husband. I had promised him, had even talked with him about some of the thoughts that I wanted to present. What must he think of me now?

“Oh, Christ!” I prayed in my heart. “Tell me what to do!”

And the answer came, she said, as plainly as spoken words. She broke the silence and recited aloud the verse she had prepared:

“Thus saith the Lord who created thee:
 “Fear not, for I have redeemed thee; I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.”

As soon as she finished, others followed in quick succession, and the prayer meeting continued on.

But Isabella was keenly aware that her father never said a word to her about the meeting or the verse.

“He was kind and tender toward me, but graver than usual; I had a feeling that I had hurt him by showing no respect for his opinions.”

Her mother and father left early the next morning and never visited the Alden home again.

A black and white illustration of a woman in Victorian era dress speaking before an audience of men and women.That was an experience that stayed with Isabella. In fact, it made such an impression on her that she described that scene—in different ways—in many of her books.

In Workers Together: An Endless Chain, Miss Joy Saunders knew that the church she belonged to “believed in woman’s sphere, and desired her to keep strictly within its limits” and “on no account to let her voice be heard” in its religious meetings.

But when Joy followed her conscience and spoke a simple verse in an otherwise very quiet prayer meeting, she “set in motion forces that are pulsing yet” because the verse she recited touched so many hearts.

Profile of a young woman standing in church. Behind her is a stained glass window; but instead of Christian icons, the window  features faces of people looking down upon her, some forwning, some laughing.



Rebecca Harlow, the heroine of Links in Rebecca’s Life, was well aware that people in her church thought women and girls should keep silent when they were at prayer meeting. But after one of those long “awful pauses” in which no one at the meeting said a word, Rebecca spoke up and asked the people to pray for a friend who was in temptation.

That was all she said and though she couldn’t see anything wrong in her words, she knew there were some in the room who “thought it was out of taste.”

And when Ester Ried attended her first prayer meeting in New York, she was astonished by the proceedings:

“Now,” said the leader briskly, “before we pray, let us have requests.” And almost before he had concluded the sentence a young man responded.

“Remember, especially, a boy in my class, who seems disposed to turn every serious word into ridicule.”

“What a queer subject for prayer,” Ester thought.

“Remember my little brother, who is thinking earnestly of those things,” another gentleman said, speaking quickly, as if he realized that he must hasten or lose his chance.

“Pray for everyone of my class. I want them all.” And at this Ester actually started, for the petition came from the lips of the blue-ribboned Fanny in the corner. A lady actually taking part in a prayer meeting when gentlemen were present! How very improper. She glanced around her nervously, but no one else seemed in the least surprised or disturbed; and, indeed, another young lady immediately followed her with a similar request.

Illustration of a young woman going to her seat in church, with the yes of several members of the congregation following her.

An American Girl in Church
by Howard Chandler Christy


In Ruth Erskine’s Crosses, Isabella described the reaction when Ruth’s half-sister spoke up at the weeknight prayer meeting:

The words she uttered were these: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Now, if it is your fortune to be a regular attendant at a prayer-meeting where a woman’s voice is never heard, you can appreciate the fact that the mere recitation of a Bible verse, by a “sister” in the church, was a startling, almost a bewildering innovation. Only a few months before, I am not sure but some of the good people would have been utterly overwhelmed by such a proceeding. But they had received many shocks of late. The Spirit of God coming into their midst had swept away many of their former ideas, and therefore they bore this better.

A Happy Ending:

Not long after that Wednesday night prayer meeting when Isabella spoke out in front of her parents, her father became very ill and she traveled to his home to be with him in his final days. One evening she was alone with her father when he said, unexpectedly:

“Thus saith the Lord who created thee.”

He explained to Isabella that he well remembered that Wednesday night prayer meeting and the verse she recited.

“The first time I ever heard it, your beloved voice gave it to me,” he said. “I can’t begin to tell you what [those words] are to me now, lying here. ‘Fear not; for I have redeemed thee; I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.’”

That was the last private talk Isabella had with her father and she cherished the memory of it.

“I thank the dear Lord,” she later wrote, “that one night He gave me courage to repeat words which brought joy to Father’s heart.”

Click on the “Isabella’s Books” tab at the top of this page to read more about the books mentioned in this post.

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 and sweet, clean fiction. Bringing readers information on great stories and connecting authors with their readers.

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