Read CHAPTER XII - Sunday of What Two Children Did, free online book, by Charlotte E. Chittenden, on

No matter how bad we are through the week,
When Sunday comes ’round we grow very meek.

“I hope, Beth,” said Ethelwyn, who always woke up first, “you will remember to-day is Sunday, and not quarrel with your sister,” But Beth cuddled down in the pillows and refused to answer a word. After a while, Ethelwyn, watching the sunbeams dancing on the pink wall, went to sleep herself, and opened her eyes only when her mother kissed her awake.

Sierra Nevada, being a devout Roman Catholic, always went to early mass on Sunday mornings, and their mother gave them their baths, to their great delight and comfort. The bath was all ready for them now, crystal clear with the jolly sunbeams dancing on its silver disk.

“We’ll get a sunshine bath,” said Beth, trying to catch the golden drops.

“Inside and outside,” said mother smiling.

“You look so pretty, motherdy,” said Ethelwyn approvingly, “So much prettier than black, cross old ’Vada, who always rolls her eyes at me and says, ‘Miss Effel, you is de troublesomest chile dat ebba was bown.’ You have sense, and in that blue gown, white apron, and cap, you are pretty. You get prettier all the time you are getting old, mother. You’ll be a beautiful angel when you are very old.”

“Thank you,” said her mother laughing. “Come on now, do you know your verse?”

“I did,” said Ethelwyn, “but the verse hasn’t any sense: it’s about St. Peter’s wife’s mother being sick with the fever

“And St. Peter cut off the priest’s right ear, and then he went out and crew bitterly,” said Beth, jumping up and down to see how high she could splash.

“Elizabeth!” said her mother, going off into spasms of laughter. “You are a heathen! Can’t you ever get things right? I will say, though, I think the verses they select for infant classes are anything but suitable, but for pity’s sake don’t say the one you told me, you will disgrace me. I will hear you after breakfast.”

But Aunt Mandy the cook was sick with the toothache, which she called a “plum mizzery” in her face, and mother was so busy, that ’Vada, who had returned and was more solemn than ever, dressed them and took them to Sunday-school.

The infant class sat on seats that began close to the floor, and gradually rose to the top of the room. Ethelwyn and Nan sat high up, while Beth was a little way below. Bobby sat near her, and had grinned all over his round face when she came in.

“I’ve brought my white mouse in my pocket; I’m going to stay for church, and I get lonesome,” he whispered.

“Uh huh,” said Beth nodding, “I’ve brought my paper dolls.” But sister punched her in the back with her parasol to be quiet, and just then the teacher asked her verse.

Beth thought hard. “Mother said I mustn’t tell you about the priest crewing about his cut off ear,” she said thoughtfully, “but I know another verse about St. Peter, it’s easier to merember than the other one, ’cause it’s poetry.”

“Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater, had a wife and couldn’t keep her

“Next!” said the teacher with a face red, and then she coughed.

The next was Bobby, who cheerfully took up the refrain, where Beth left off.

“ Put her in a pumpkin shell, and there he kept her very well,”

he concluded promptly.

The older pupils, with two scandalized exceptions, Ethelwyn and Nan laughed, and the younger ones turned around and looked interested. The teacher coughed again and changed the subject.

But the adventures of Bobby and Beth were by no means over, for when they came out into the large room where the hundreds of scholars sat, the infant class was marshaled up into the choir seats to sing “Precious Julias” as Beth still called it. The upright of the front seat was standing unfastened from the floor, waiting for repairs, but no one knew it, Beth and Bobby least of all. They, and six other infants pressed close up against it, and sang with all their might.

Unfortunately they pressed too hard on the loose back. All at once it went over, and eight unfortunate infants sprawled flat on their faces, hats rolling off, and books tumbling down.

Everybody stopped singing to laugh, but it changed to little shrieks of dismay, as a poor frightened white mouse, thrown out of Bobby’s pocket by the shock, went running down the aisle.

Bobby ran after it in hot pursuit.

Beth followed loyally, for she had seen where it went.

They caught the trembling little creature at the door, and then they looked at each other.

“Let’s go home,” said Bobby.

“Uh huh, let’s,” said Beth.

They met Beth’s mother on the way to church. “We’ll stay at home to-day, mother,” said Beth, “we’ve had just all we can stand.”

So they went home and played church in the front yard, until Ethelwyn and Nan came home just before the sermon.

Those young ladies had fully intended solemnly to lecture the two at home, but it was very pleasant under the trees, with the birds, and Bobby and Beth singing lustily, so they joined in, and Ethelwyn then preached. “I choose to,” she said, “because I went to an awfully dry lecture on art or clothes or something, with mother. I slept some, ’cause it was almost as hard to understand as a sermon, but when I was awake I heard a good deal that will do you good.

“Clothes,” she went on after this introduction, “will ruin your health if you don’t look out, and study statoos and things for some kind of line, clothes-line, I guess. So when you see a lot of white statoos which aren’t as interesting as the circus but more good for learning, which is always the way in this life learnified things are likely to be dry you’ll learn something. But I went to sleep before I found out what or why statoos is the thing to study; but they are so cold-looking, from being undressed, that I think it would be a kind act to make pajamas for them, and trousers for our dolls so they will live longer

I will not,” said Beth firmly, from the congregation. “It wouldn’t be fun to have all boy dolls, and you know it, sister, and besides wasn’t Billy Boy the first doll we broke after Christmas? and he’s up-stairs now waiting for his funeral.”

“O, let’s have it now,” said Nan, who didn’t like sermons unless she preached them.

“No, here’s mother and we’ll have to have dinner now, so we will have the funeral to-morrow,” said Ethelwyn.