Now that Bessie had learned the secret of a Christian life, she longed to see others enjoying the love of God. She felt the greatest burden for her father. Oh, if she could see him enjoying salvation! She often poured out her desire in prayer, with childlike trust and confidence. God heard her prayers.
One morning as she was passing the barn on her way to school, she heard some strange sounds. Peering through a window, she beheld a sight that made her wonder if she saw aright. There stood her beloved father, great tears streaming from his eyes, his countenance beaming with heavenly peace and joy, and praises to God pouring from his lips. What did it mean? In a weak voice she said, |Papa dear, what is the matter!|
Turning he exclaimed: |Oh, Bessie, God has saved me! I am so happy! Run quick and tell your mother!| Bessie ran to the house to tell the glad news, but her father was there nearly as soon, saying, |Oh, I'm saved! You're right, wife. I know now that you're right, and I see things just as you do! I'm so happy and feel so different. Oh, help me to praise the dear Lord.|
Let us leave them in their happiness and follow Bessie to school. Her father's words rang as sweet music in her ears. How good the dear Lord was to answer her in her father's behalf! She felt that no good thing would be withheld from them that walk uprightly. But Bessie was soon to meet a severe and unexpected trial.
Her mother had made her a school-dress. Though neat and pretty, it was of a material commonly used for men's shirts. Bessie knew this, but thought nothing of it until some of her schoolmates gathered round her at recess and said, |O girls, Bessie has a new dress like her father's shirt.| Another said, |Perhaps it is his shirt.| The remarks were certainly unkind, and Bessie felt them keenly; but she laughed and said, |Yes; I know it.| Nothing more was said. But oh, that dress! How she disliked to wear it! At times she could hardly start to school with it on; but then she would think, |I know Mama thought it was pretty when she got it for me; and I thought it was nice until the girls made those remarks. I will try to like it for Mama's sake.|
With such thoughts in her mind she returned home from school one evening. When she reached the house, she saw that no one was at home; but, knowing where the key was kept, she easily gained admittance. Finding herself alone in the house, she thought: |Now is the time to learn to like my dress, and I'm going to do it. Mother shall not know how I have felt about it.| She hastened into the parlor and stood before a large mirror.
Now, Bessie knew that she did not have a pretty face, and she had gained the victory over that; but she did want to feel that her clothes looked well on her, and that was the battle she meant to fight that evening. As she slowly turned from side to side viewing herself intently, she liked the dress better and better. At last she thought it very pretty and becoming, and she knelt down and thanked God for giving it to her. As she changed it for her work-dress, she wondered why she had allowed the children's remarks to affect her so much and had not appreciated the dress more. No more remarks were ever made about the dress, and Bessie continued to admire it until it was worn out. No one but herself and the Lord knew of the struggle through which she passed.
Through the trial concerning the dress, Bessie learned several valuable lessons: first, the less notice one takes of unkindness, the better; second, God's grace can keep in time of temptation; third, one should not murmur because of persecution; and, last, and best of all, God usually gives his children some great blessing before a severe trial, and the close relationship between the two makes them almost one in effect. She could now say with real appreciation:
A little trial often tries,
But proves a blessing in disguise.
Just as the rough rock holds the gem,
The trial holds my diadem.
But a still greater trial was awaiting her. Bessie had a thirst for knowledge. She was doing well in school and wanted to do better. Instead of taking exercise during the daily intermissions, she often spent them in hard study. Her system, naturally frail, could not stand the strain. She contracted a fever and for three months despaired of life. In the third month dropsy of the chest set in; and, on account of smothering spells, she had to be bolstered up in bed with pillows.
One day as Mrs. Worthington stood beside her child she felt that God wanted to heal her. Kneeling beside the bed, she prayed, |Dear Lord, heal my child, and grant that she may be spared to work for thee.| From that time Bessie began to improve. She had no more smothering spells, and before long she was well and strong.
Bessie found a blessing even in this trial. She saw that, had she been able to push ahead as she had desired, she might have lost sight of Jesus, and she now understood that her Savior cared for her body as well as for her soul.