Posted by: Sherry Goodwin | October 2, 2008


Sunday-school at Rilverton, on a bright Sunday morning in early spring:

A little girl came in with a lady teacher.  She had dark hair and rosy cheeks, and looked remarkably strong and well.  You would have noticed her ready and pleasant smile, and her pretty way of looking up brightly when any one spoke to her.  At other times there was a thoughtful look on her face–not at all sad, but as if she had a great deal to think about and very important business on hand.  She would have told you that she would be “twelve next birthday.”
“Here’s little Miss Murray,” whispered Emma Fayling, a girl in the second class.  “Look!  mother goes charing to Mrs. Murray’s, and she likes Miss Bruey.”
“What a funny name!”  said Alice Fosbery, who sat next.  “But do see what a pretty hat she has.  That’s just what I should like–that wreath all around.” . . .Alice kept her eyes on the hat:  “Yes, I hope she will [sit with our class], but I’m afraid she is going to teach some of the little ones.  I wonder if that wreath is very dear?  I do like it.  I wonder if I could get a rose like that for a shilling–the biggest, I mean–that one in front?”
While this had been going on, Bruey’s friend, Miss Anstey, had led her up to Miss Allison, the superintendent.
“If you have many of those very little ones to-day, my little friend Bruey would be delighted to try and teach a few of them, if you will trust her.”
The superintendent said, “I dare say Miss Denton will be very glad to give her three or four of her little girls, for so many new ones have come lately that her class is getting too large, and yet there are hardly enough to divide it into two classes.”  Then a few kind words were spoken to Bruey, about how nice it would be if she would try to tell the little ones something about Jesus and all the kind and wonderful things he did, and how much the superintendent hoped that Bruey herself loved Jesus, and would try to teach them for his sake.
Bruey did not speak a word.  She only looked very grave, and listened, with her great dark eyes fixed steadily on the kind face.  And she followed very quietly and slowly when Miss Allison said, “Come with me, dear, and I will find you something to do among the tiny ones.”
  Very soon Bruey was seated on a stool, with a little bench before her on which were four little girls of six or seven years old.  She had a text to teach them, and a Bible story to tell them.  Whenever the superintendent looked that way, she saw the four little heads looking straight before them at the little teacher, and there was much less noise from that corner of the room than when Miss Denton had her whole class to manage.
After school the superintendent came to her and said, “Well, Bruey, are you tired?”  “No.”  “Have your children been good?”  “Yes–very.”  “And did you try to teach them about Jesus?”
There was no answer to this.  Bruey was not shy about most things, but she felt very shy about saying anything about herself.  But she looked up and smiled, which was perhaps as good as an answer, and presently she said,  “May I come again next Sunday?”  . . .so she went home with plenty to think about, both as to the Sunday that was nearly over and as to the Sundays that were to come.
Bruey had no father; he had died when she was only six years old.  She lived with her mother in the middle of a long and pleasant row of houses, a little way out of the town, all enclosed by an iron gate opening upon a broad gravel path, with houses on one side and little sloping gardens on the other.  Her only sister, Ada, was at a foreign school, and was not to come home till next Christmas, so Bruey would have been alone with her mother but for a cousin who boarded with them and went to the Rilverton grammar school.
Cousin Percy, who was nearly two years older than Bruey, had come after the Christmas holidays, and had not yet,  according to his own account, succeeded in “making out” this new plaything or puzzle, as he regarded his little cousin.  But “girls always are queer, even if they are ever so jolly,” remarked Percy, and he liked her all the better for not being too comprehensible.  But she was used to Percy now, and  understood him a great deal better than he understood her. . .
After tea, Bruey was leaving the room.  Percy was tumbling about on the sofa:  “Don’t be horrid, and go away just when a fellow’s got nothing to do but to tease you.  Come here, and tell us some more about these young ones.”
“I don’t want to stay now, Percy, if you don’t mind.”  As Bruey shut the door, Percy said, “What ever made her take a fancy to go to the Sunday-school?  I hope she’ll soon be tired of it.”
“I don’t think she will,” said Mrs. Murray, quietly.
“She is a funny one. Aunt, what a great girl she is for her age. . .but she can’t run a bit.”
“Don’t tease her to run, Percy; it is not good for Bruey because she had rheumatic fever when she was quite a little thing, just before your dear uncle died; and ever since that, though she has been strong and well in all other respects, she has never been able to run fast without losing her breath, and once or twice it has brought on palpitation.  So never persuade her to run, that’s a good boy.”
“Aunt, why do you call her ‘Bruey’?  It’s such a queer name and one can’t tell whether it is masculine or feminine.”
“That was her father’s doing.  We called her ‘Baby’ till she was beginning to talk, and then he used to try to teach her to say, ‘Ellen Bruce Murray,’ and she would say ‘Bruey’ for ‘Bruce’ so funnily and prettily that he took to calling her ‘little Bruey,’ and then the rest of us did.  And I could not call her anything else now, because–”  She did not finish the sentence, but looked out and away at the sunset, and beyond it.
Percy was silent too.

Frances Ridley Havergal from BRUEY:  A LITTLE WORKER FOR CHRIST


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