Posted by: Sherry Goodwin | October 5, 2008


“A PAGE FROM IRISH HISTORY” makes a page of Bruey’s history:

The prayer of that stormy Sunday evening, that she might be shown if there were any other work for her to do, was often repeated.  In one way it was constantly answered, for little things kept turning up which seemed to be the right work to do, sometimes for her mamma, sometimes for Percy, sometimes for Willie Fosbery [the cripple boy who could not walk] or her little girls [from the Sunday-school class].  But though Bruey accepted all these as answers to her prayer, and tried to do each little thing faithfully, she still had a sort of expectation that some other answer would come, and that something else would turn up over and above all this.
And the answer did come, in an unexpected way, when the days grew long and lonely and May was passing into June.  One Saturday evening, after a late tea, Percy lay on his back on the grass-plot of the little garden, kicking, because he had pretty well exhausted himself with sundry violent games with his school-fellows, and this was his usual mode of recruiting himself.  Mrs. Murray came out with a newspaper in her hand:  “Percy, you will get rheumatism if you lie on the grass like that, after you have been so hot.  Get up.  Can’t you sit down on the garden seat if you are tired?  Here, you can have the Rilverton Advertiser to look over.”
Percy took the paper, and strolled about with it.  Bruey came out to join him. . .she did not care about accidents and murders, which are a boy’s chief idea of the value of a newspaper.  “Hallo!  here is a story; what’s this?”  Bruey looked over his shoulder:  “That looks interesting; is it?  Won’t you read it to me?”
It was headed, “A Page from Irish History,” and a very interesting page Bruey thought it, but she did not know that the result of reading it would be to make a new and very pleasant page in her own little history.
The article referred to the need of supplying Bibles in the Irish tongue to those who were unable to read English.  The minister who had been very active in this good work was coming to Rilverton.  Bruey was anxious to extract a promise from her mother that she might go to the meeting.
At seven o’clock on the Monday evening, Mrs. Murray, Bruey and Percy were sitting in the midst of a delightfully full meeting in the town hall of Rilverton.  “There’s the preacher,” whispered Bruey.  Mr. Moore told much of the work of the old Irish society, the oldest of all the many efforts to do good to poor Ireland–how it taught many thousands of poor Irish who could not speak a word of the English language to read the Bible in their own beloved tongue, and to repeat much of it by heart, so that it could never be taken away from them; how its Irish-speaking teachers went where no others were of any use; how many poor miserable creatures were made glad by the good tidings of great joy who never heard the good news till the Irish society sent it; how many more heard of it, and sent messages that they would like to learn to read the Book, and how very often the Irish society had no money enough to send them a teacher, and had to say “No!”
Bruey wished she could send money to help them in providing more teachers and more Bibles.  She fumbled for the six-pence in her pocket with a very groundless hope that it might prove to be a shilling.  Then the speaker, after many interesting stories of the Irish teachers and scholars, told his hearers that it only cost five shillings to have one poor Irish person taught to read.
Only five shillings!  Oh, if she had that much!  But the amount in her money-box at home was about fifteen pence half-penny, which was not half enough.  There were all these poor people knowing nothing about Jesus, very poor, and full of terror when ill and dying, and no one doing anything for them except the Irish society, and that not able to teach all who would like to be taught, just for want of more five shillings!  It would take weeks and months to make that sum up out of her twopence a week, and who ever liked having to wait months to give what they would like to give that minute?  She wanted to do something. . .the words “Miss Allison” startled her into attention. . .and what followed was plain enough “will be very happy to supply collecting cards and papers to any one who will apply for them.”
The “power of the sixpences” supplied a great amount of money each year for this work.
Percy thought Bruey must be very tired as they walked home, for she was not to be roused by any amount of teasing on the subject of the meeting, but went along gravely and silently; so he at last left her to her own cogitations, and chattered to his aunt.
Bruey was full of the idea of sixpences.  That was a very come-at-able coin, and it only took ten to make up five shillings.  No wonder she had so much thinking to do that there was no room for talking.  After supper, she asked her mamma for permission to obtain a card.  She was delighted with the answer.  And the next day, Bruey was the first applicant for an Irish card from Miss Margaret Allison, an invalid who agreed to be the secretary of the Irish society for that place.  Bruey was a very unexpected collector who came to offer herself for the work.  Miss Margaret gave her a pretty little bright green card like a book, with spaces for thirty names, and wrote upon it, under “Collector’s Name,”  “Miss E. B. Murray.”
When Bruey arrived home, she took a shilling from her own money-box.  And so she filled in the first line with A.B.C. as she didn’t want her own name to be first.  Dear Percy was next, with D.E.F. and matched Bruey’s shilling.  Then came her mamma with another shilling.  By dinner-time, there were five names on the card, for cook gave sixpence and Jane [the housekeeper] threepence.
In the afternoon, Bruey went to see Willie to tell him she had a “collecting-card” and she planned to ask all her friends for sixpences.  He heard all about it and she showed Willie the card as if it were a new treasure.  Willie wanted a collecting card, too.  So Bruey arranged it for him the very next day.
In the afternoon after her studies and with mamma’s permssion some more serious collecting began.  Bruey went around and began with No. 1 on Calton Terrace.  Then she went to No. 2.  No luck!  Poor Bruey!  Would it all be like this?  How dreadful! It was not begging, but work, and very hard work.  And collectors, young or old, would always rather have the smallest coin as a mere expression of real sympathy than be turned away quite empty-handed.
She finally got up enough courage to try No. 3 and a little prayer rose swiftly and silently through the June sunshine to the unseen golden gates beyond.  The servant of that house informed her that the family had gone to the seaside the day before.
Next was No. 4, then No. 5. . .a few words came into her mind like a cool, sweet breeze:  “As I was with Moses, so will I be with thee.”
   A good-natured looking old gentleman lived at No. 4.  “So you are a collector for the Irish society?”  “Yes,” said Bruey, with a sigh and a dismal look.  Mr. Nelson asked a few questions and challenged a young woman there in the room to give something, too as well as his wife.  “Oh, how very nice!”  said Bruey.  “That fills up another line in my card.  There are three pages, and ten lines in each, and I do so want to fill as many as I can.  I would like to fill the card if possible.”
This was a grand success.  “I wish all the houses were like this,” cried Bruey, overflowing.  The good-byes were accompanied with good wishes, and she went out of the house convinced that collecting was a most beautiful occupation, and with very much enlarged ideas of the sum total she was to pay in to the secretary.
Bruey proceeded to No. 5 and found a woman quite untouched by the needs of the far-off Irish.  Bruey appealed to the woman one last time.  “You don’t know how dreadful it is to call at three houses running, and get nothing.”  “Then what do you do it for?” asked the woman.  “Because I do want those poor Irish to know about Jesus Christ and be happy.”  The woman finally agreed to give some halfpences sitting on the fireplace, with the condition that her name not be used on the sheet.  Bruey settled on “Off the chimney-piece–7 l/2 d.”
By the time she got to No. 7, Bruey was hot and tired and she was eager to return home to rest and eat a little.  Mrs. Murray implored her to rest in the cool of the garden the remainder of the day.  But in the evening a few more houses were called at, so that Calton Terrace was nearly finished.
It was too near midsummer to need any candle or gas at Bruey’s bedtime, and the soft, clear twilight was enough even for her evening chapter, though the brightness of the sunset was no longer opposite the window, but had shifted away to the far north-west.  She was not inclined to hurry, and before kneeling down sat for a little while curled up on her box, resting her arms on the ledge of the window.  If “means of grace” meant anything that helped people to pray and be thoughtful,  she thought her box and her window and the sunsets and the sweet twilights were undoubtedly “means of grace.”
So she sat and mused over the day.  “Then what do you do it for?”  The words came back to her as she recalled her chimney-piece success at No. 5.  “What for?”  She had answered that, and truly, but the word seemed to change itself into “Who for?”  “For HIM!”  Yes, really for him.
What did it matter if she was a little tired, and if she had trembled a little as she rang the door-bells, and more still as she tried to explain why the money was wanted?  It was all for him, and he had given her this nice opportunity of really doing something for him, though she was only a little girl of twelve years old.  He really did hear her and “meet” her in her little praying corner–she had done her very best for him!
As she lay down that night she thought, “I wonder what will be the next work he will give me to do?”  Harder work than collecting perhaps, dear Bruey!

Frances Ridley Havergal from BRUEY:  A LITTLE WORKER FOR CHRIST

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