Authors: Grace Livingston Hill
© 2013 by Grace Livingston Hill
Print ISBN 978-1-62029-387-4
Adobe Digital Edition (.epub) 978-1-62029-997-5
Kindle and MobiPocket Edition (.prc) 978-1-62029-996-8
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes, except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without written permission of the publisher.
All scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Bible.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any similarity to actual people, organizations, and/or events is purely coincidental.
Cover design: Faceout Studio,
Published by Barbour Publishing, Inc., P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, Ohio 44683,
Our mission is to publish and distribute inspirational products offering exceptional value and biblical encouragement to the masses.
Printed in the United States of America.
onstance Courtland came smiling into the living room humming a cheerful little tune. She had just been lingering at the front door with Rudyard Van Arden, a neighbor’s son whom she had gone for a drive with, and her brother.
Frank looked up with a whimsical sneer.
“Well, has that egg gone home at last?” he drawled. “It beats me what you find to say to him. You’ve been gassing out there for a full half hour. Why, I c’n remember when you wouldn’t speak ta that guy. You said he was the limit. And now just because you’ve both been ta college, and he’s got a sweater with a big red letter on the front and a little apricot-colored eyebrow on his upper lip, you stand there and chew the rag fer half an hour. And Mother, here, ben having seven pink fits for fear the Reverend Gustawvus Grant’ll return before she has a chance ta give ya the high sign.”
The mother rose hurriedly, embarrassedly, her face flushing guiltily, and began to protest.
“Really, Frank, you have no right to talk to your sister that way about her friends! When she’s only home for this weekend, you ought to make it as pleasant for her as you can. You don’t see much of your sister, and you oughtn’t to tease her like that. She won’t carry a very pleasant memory of her home back to college if you annoy her so whenever one of the old neighbors comes in to see her a little while. You know perfectly well that Rudyard Van Arden is a fine, respectable young man.”
Constance stopped humming and looked keenly from her brother to her mother.
“Never mind Ruddy Van,” she said, coolly sweeping her mother’s words aside without ceremony. “What’s this about Dr. Grant? You don’t mean to tell me, Mother, that you’ve invited him to dinner one of the few nights I have at home, when you know how I detest him?”
“No, of course not, dear!” said the mother hastily and placatingly. “Nothing like that at all. He just dropped in to see you this afternoon. He was very anxious to talk with you—” The mother stopped abruptly.
“To talk with
!” said Constance, narrowing her eyes and looking from mother to brother again. “What could he possibly want to talk with me about? If it’s to sing in the Easter choir or a solo, no, I won’t and that’s flat! I can’t and won’t sing with that Ferran girl flatting the way she does. There’s no use asking me. If that’s what he wants I’ll slide out the back way and go over to Mabel’s for a little while. You just tell him I’ve got bronchitis or any other efficient throat trouble. I simply won’t discuss it with him. He always acts as if he wants to chuck me under the chin or pat me on the head as if I was still five. My, how I used to hate it!”
“No, dear, it’s nothing like that. He didn’t even suggest your singing.”
“Well then, what is it? Let’s get it over with.”
“Why, dear, you see they’re having a special communion service tomorrow—Easter, you know. It’s such a lovely idea, and all your Sunday school class are uniting with the church. He wanted you to join with them and make it a full class. It seems a rather lovely idea, I think myself, so suitable, you know.”
“Me? Join the church? Oh, Mother! How Victorian!”
“Oh but now, Constance, don’t try to be modern. No, wait! I really have got to tell you about it, because he may be here any minute now, and Connie dear, your grandmother has quite set her heart upon it.”
“Grandmother!” laughed Constance. “What has she got to do with it? My soul! It sounds as if my family were still in the dark ages.”
“Well, but Connie, you’ll find your grandmother is very much upset about it. You see she’s been scolding me ever since you first went off to college that I let you go without uniting with the church. She thought it would be such a safeguard. And now that you’ve almost finished, she is determined that you shall be a member of the church before you graduate. She says she did and I did and it isn’t respectable not to. And really, my dear, I think you’ll just have to put your own wishes aside this time and humor her.”
“How ridiculous, Mother. Join the church to suit Grandmother! Just you leave her to me. I’ll make her understand that girls don’t do things like that today. Things are different from when she was young. And by the way, Mother, do you think she’s going to give me that string of pearls for a graduating present? You promised to feel around and see. I’d so much like to have it for the big dance next week. It’s going to be a swell affair.”
“Well, that’s the trouble, Constance dear. I’ve been trying to find out what she had planned, and it seems she’s quite got her heart set on that string of pearls being a present to you when you join the church. Her father gave it to her when she joined, and she has often said to me, ‘The day that Constance joins the church I shall give her my string of pearls.’ I really believe she means it, too, for she has been talking about your cousin Norma, and once she asked me if Norma was a member of the church.”
“Mercy, Mother, you don’t think she’s thinking of giving a string of matched pearls to a little country school teacher with a muddy complexion and no place in the world to wear them?”
“You can’t tell, my dear, what she may not do if you frustrate her in this desire of her heart. She’s just determined, Connie! She told me your grandfather had always said that he wanted to see you a member of the old church and be sure you were safe in the fold before he died, and she had sort of given him her word that she would see to it that you came out all right. Connie, you really mustn’t laugh so loud. If she were to hear you—!”
Constance stifled her mirth.
“But honestly, Mother, it’s so Victorian, so sort of traditional and all, you know. I’d be ashamed to have it get back to college that I had to knuckle in and join the church to please my grandmother. Why, everybody would despise me after the enlightening education I’ve had. It’s a sort of relic of the dark ages.”
“Aw, you don’t havta believe anything,” put in the brother amusedly. “Just havta stand up there a few minutes and then it’s all over. Doesn’t mean a thing, and who’ll ever think of it again? Gee, if Grandmother’d buy me that Rolls-Royce I want, I’d join the church any day! I don’t see whatcha making sucha fuss about.”
“Franklin! That’s irreverent!” reproved his mother coldly. “Of course Constance would do anything she did sincerely. Constance has always been conscientious. But, Connie dear, I don’t see why you object to something that has been a tradition in the family for years. Of course you’re a thoughtless girl now, but you’ll come to a time when you’ll be glad you did it, something to depend on in times of trouble and all that. You know, really, it’s a good thing to get a matter like this all settled when one is young. And of course, you know, that college-girl point of view isn’t always going to stay with you. You just think you’ve got new light on things now, but when you get older and settle down you’ll see the church was a good, safe place to be.”
“Oh applesauce!” said Constance merrily. “Mother, what good has it ever done you to be a member of a church, I’d like to know? Oh, of course you’ve pussyfooted through all their missionary tea-fights and things like that, and everybody puts you on committees and things. You may like that sort of thing, but I don’t. I never could stand going to church, and as for Dr. Grant, I can’t endure his long, monotonous preaching! No, really, Mother, I can’t! Let me talk to Grandmother. I’m sure I can make her see this thing straight.”
“No, Constance, really you mustn’t talk to your grandmother! Indeed, my child, you don’t understand. She’s quite in a critical state. I’m not sure but she contemplates writing Norma this evening and committing herself about those pearls. She feels that religion is being insulted by your not uniting with the old family church. And you know, my dear, in spite of all the modern talk, one really does need a little religion in life.”
“That is nothing but sentimental slush!” said Constance indignantly.
“Well, I’ll grant you your grandmother is a trifle sentimental about those pearls,” admitted the mother. “She feels that they are a sort of symbol of innocence and religion. She said all those things this afternoon. In fact, I’d been having a rather dreadful time with her ever since Dr. Grant called, until I told her that he was returning to arrange things with you and I was quite sure you would be willing to see things as she wanted you to.”
“There’s the reverend gentleman now,” said Frank amusedly, gathering up his long legs from the couch where he had been stretched during the colloquy. “I’m going ta beat it. He hasn’t got a line on me yet, not until Grand talks about that Rolls-Royce, anyway.”
“Oh, Mother, I really can’t stay and see him. Let me get up the back stairs quick,” said Constance.
But her mother placed her substantial body firmly in her path.
“No, Constance, I must insist! This really is a serious matter. You are not going to let those ancestral pearls go out of the immediate family, I am sure. Listen, Connie, he’s merely coming to arrange a time for you to meet the session. It’s only a formality, you know, just a question or two and it’s over. There won’t be time for anything else. He said the session has a meeting this evening. Some of the girls will be there then.”
“Indeed I can’t go this evening,” blustered Constance breathlessly. “I’m going to that dance at the country club, and I promised Ruddy I’d ride with him in his new car beforehand.”
“Well, we’ll fix it somehow. Tomorrow morning you could go a little early, before the service. It’s only a formality anyway.”