The Second Chance by Nellie L. McClung
Chapter XIII. The Ladies' Aid Meeting
Oh, wad some power the giftie gie us, To see oorselves as ithers see us.
Pearl went to the Ladies' Aid Meeting, which was held at Mrs. Ducker's, and was given a little table to sit at while she took the notes. Pearl was a fairly rapid writer, and was able to get down most of the proceedings.
Camilla copied the report into the minute-book, and as Mrs. Francis did not think about it until the next meeting, when she came to read it she found it just as Pearl had written it, word for word. The reading caused some excitement. The minutes were as follows:
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The Ladies' Aid met at the home of Mrs. Ducker. There were seven present when it started; but more came. Mrs. Burrell doesn't know why they can't come in time. She told them so. Mrs. Bates said, Lands sakes, she had a hard enough time getting there at all. She left a big bag of stockings all in holes. Mrs. Forrest says it's been so hot the holes are the most comfortable part of the stockings, and if she was in Mrs. Bates's place she'd let the girls go barefoot. Mrs. Bates is going to let Mildred go, but she can't let Blanche--she's so lanky--she'd look all legs, like a sand-hill crane. Burrell says, Let's open the meeting by singing, "How Firm a Foundation" but Mrs. Ducker says, Oh, don't take that, it's in sharps; take "Nearer, Still Nearer"--it's in flats, and Maudie can handle the flats better. Then they sang, and Mrs. Burrell and Mrs. Ducker prayed. Mrs. Ducker prayed longest, but Mrs. Burrell prayed loudest, and for most things. Mrs. Bates read the last report, and they said it was better than usual, she'd only left out one or two things. Then they collected the money. Nearly every one paid; only Mrs. Burrell couldn't find hers, she was sure she had it in her glove when she came in, and she couldn't see how it ever fell out. Mrs. Ducker will get it when she sweeps if it's in the house at all. Mrs. Williams had her ten cents in a tea-cup all ready, but when she went to get it it was gone, and she's afraid she gave that cup to one of the boarders by mistake. Mrs. Williams says that's the worst of keeping boarders, your home is never your own. Mrs. Forrest says if she only knew which one got it, she should charge it up to him. Mrs. Williams wouldn't ever think of doing that. Total receipts of evening, $2.20.
Then Mrs. Burrell asked what about the new stairs carpet. She's ashamed every time she takes any one upstairs, it's going something awful. Mrs. White hasn't had time to think anything about it, she's been doing up rhubarb; it's so nice and tender in the spring. None of Mrs. Bates's folks will eat rhubarb, and so she never does any up, though she really is very fond of it herself, done with pineapple, the shredded pineapple--half and half. Mrs. Ducker is doing rhubarb, too, it's nice in the spring when everything else goes flat on you. Mrs. Burrell says, What about the stairs carpet, now if you're done with the rhubarb?
Mrs. Forrest said linoleum is better than carpet. Mrs. Ducker said it's too cold on the feet. Mrs. Grieves said, Land sakes, let them wear their boots--they don't need to go canterin' up and down the stairs in their bare feet, do they? Mrs. Burrell said linoleum would do all right if they couldn't afford carpet; but there wasn't any decent linoleum in town, and even if there was you have to pay two prices for it, but she saw in the Free Press that there was going to be a linoleum sale in Winnipeg on Saturday. Mrs. Ducker does not like sales. Mr. Ducker got a horse at a sale one time, and the very first time they hitched it up it took blind staggers. Mrs. Forrest thinks there would be no danger of the linoleum havin' it, though. Mrs. Burrell said she wished they'd talk sense. Mrs. Snider said she would move that Mrs. Burrell gets whatever she wants for the stairs and the Ladies' Aid will pay for it. Carried. Mrs. Burrell said what about the knives and forks committee. Mrs. Bates hasn't been able to go out since she fell down stairs. There's a black patch on her knee yet. Mrs. Bates blackens easy. Mrs. Snider has had her hands full, goodness knows, since Aunt Jessie has been laid up with erysipelas. Aunt Jessie is pretty hard to wait on, and doesn't like the smell of the ointment the doctor gave her, it's altogether different from what she got when she was down in the States. Mrs. Burrell said she would get the knives and forks herself if anybody would make a motion. Two made it, and three seconded it. Carried.
Mrs. Burrell said, How are the things getting on for the bazaar? Mrs. Ducker had a box of things sent from Mrs. Norman in Winnipeg. Mrs. Snider thinks Mrs. Norman must have been at a sale: You can get things so cheap there sometimes. When Mrs. Snider was in at Bonspiel time, she saw lovely lace stockings for eleven cents a pair, and beautiful flowered muslin, just the very same as they ask sixty-five cents here, going for twenty-nine cents. (Couldn't get all they said here, everybody talked at once about sales.)
Mrs. Burrell said: Where'll we hold it, anyway, if we do get enough stuff? Mrs. Ducker thought the basement of the church. Mrs. Bates can't get used to holding sales in churches. Her mother never could either. Mrs. Burrell said when the church was having the sale, what was the odds where it was held? No use turning up your nose at a sale and still take the money. Mrs. Smith moved that sale be held in church, though if the stuff didn't come in faster, a piano box would do. Mrs. Allen said, hurry up, do, please. She left the baby with Jim, and he's no good at all if She begins to fuss. Mrs. Snider seconded the motion.
Mrs. Burrell said, where will we meet next time? Mrs. Graham said, come to my house. Mrs. Forrest said it was too far. Mrs. Graham said the walk would do her good, she had just been reading in the Fireside Visitor that that's what's wrong with lots of people, they don't walk enough. Mrs. Forrest is glad to know this, for she has often wondered what was wrong with lots of people, but Mrs. Forrest doesn't think much of the Fireside Visitor--it's away off sometimes.
Mrs. Brown would like to come every time if she had company home. Mrs. Burrell said bring Mr. Brown. Mr. Brown wouldn't come. You couldn't get him within three acres of a Ladies' Aid Meeting. Never could. Decided to meet at Mrs. Burrell's.
R. J. P. WATSON, Sec.
Just for this time.
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Pearl and Mrs. Burrell became very good friends before Pearl left the next morning. Mrs. Burrell, while they were washing up the breakfast dishes, apologized in her own way for her outburst against the country appointment.
"I'm a crabbed old woman, Pearl, dear," she said.
"Not old," Pearl said promptly, with wisdom beyond her years. She did not deny the other adjective.
"I'm a crabbed old woman, Pearl," she repeated; "but I am always afraid he'll catch cold and get sick he is so reckless, and never seems to have serious thoughts about himself, or realize what wet feet will do for him if he persists in them; and really, child, it's hard to be a minister's wife. You've so many people to please, and when you're pleasing one, some one else doesn't like it. Now, did you notice Mrs. Maxwell wasn't at the meeting? She got miffed with me over the smallest little thing. You know her boy, Alec, plays lacrosse, and there's going to be a big game here on the 1st of July, at the Pioneers' Picnic, and she was talking about it--he's so foolish that way for a woman of her age. I said to her, just as kindly as I am speaking to you now: 'I do hope Alec will be able to control his temper,' I said. 'I know it's hard for people with that complexion to control their temper.' You see, I know, for my youngest brother has hair just like Alec Maxwell, and I told her this, and I did it all so kindly. But what do you suppose? She tossed her head"--Mrs. Burrell showed Pearl the way--"and she says. 'Just look after your own, Mrs. Burrell. I guess Alec can control himself as well as most red-headed people.' Red-headed, mind you! I was so upset about it. Of course, I know there is a tinge of red in mine--more of a gold, I guess it is, just when the sun shines on it--but no one would think of calling it red, would they, Pearl?"
"No, indeed," Pearl answered truthfully. "It isn't a bit red."
Pearl was thinking that sorrel was nearer the colour, but she knew she must not say it.
"I am always getting people offended at me when I do not mean any offence. John just laughs at me when I tell him. He often says, 'Mattie, you are a wonder in your own way,' and I am not sure just what he means by it; but often, Pearl, I'm afraid I haven't tact."
Pearl assured Mrs. Burrell that she shouldn't worry about it.
"Sometimes I think I do pretty well, and say the right thing. One night I met Miss Rose, your friend, and Mr. Russell out walking. I met them going past the McSorley house, and you know they're building a piece to it since the twins came. So I said to Mr. Russell: 'Be sure to get a big house at first, so you won't have to be adding to it all the time; it's so expensive to enlarge a house.' I guess Mr. Russell took it all right, because he said: 'Yes, Mrs. Burrell, just as solemn as can be, but I don't believe John liked it, because he began to talk to Miss Rose right away. I often think, Pearl, if my own little girl had lived I would have been a lot happier; I wouldn't be depending, then, so much on other people for my happiness. I am a poor, cross old woman, and I really do not mean to be. I feel real kind to people, and would be if they would let me."
"You're all right, Mrs. Burrell," Pearl said soothingly. "You've keen kind to me, and I like you just fine."
Mrs. Burrell looked at her gratefully.
"I believe you do, you blessed child; you see the good in everybody."
When Pearl went home that day she announced to her family that she was happy in four places. "I'm happy because we're goin' to have church now, that's one; and I'm happy because Mrs. Burrell gave me all those pansy plants, that's two; and I'm happy because Camilla is goin' to be married, and she has made me the loveliest white silk dress you ever saw, just the spittin' image of her own, because I'm to be her bridesmaid, that's three; and I'm happy because"--she hesitated, as a sudden shyness seized her--"oh, well, I'm just happy."