“Who was the quiet-appearing girl that came into church quite late, last Sabbath?” I asked a friend of mine who was an active member in the church which I had recently joined.
Did she wear a striped shawl and a dark dress?” Inquired my friend? If so, it was Annie Linton, a girl who is a seamstress in Brown’s shop.”
“I did not notice her clothes in particular,” I answered, but her face attracted me; I should know it among a thousand faces. How could you pass by a stranger so indifferently, Mrs. Greyson? I expected that you would ask her to remain to Sabbath-school, and go into your Bible-class, but you did not once look at her.”
“I did not once think of it, and if I had, probably she would not have accepted the invitation, as she is a stranger in town, and undoubtedly will not remain here long,” my friend replied quickly, in the way of defense.
I said nothing more, for Mrs. G. was really an excellent Christian woman, with this one fault,--carelessness,- which sometimes caused her to make grave mistakes.
But I could not help thinking about the stranger girl. Her large dark eyes and her finely formed face revealed more than ordinary intelligence, and in some way I gained the impression that she was deeply impressed with religious conviction, if not a Christian already. It seemed to me that she left the church very reluctantly, and was half waiting an invitation to the Bible-class.
The next Sabbath she came again and occupied the same seat,--just in front of my own. She bowed her head very reverently during prayer, and once during the sermon I saw her lip quiver with emotion, and a tear came into her eye. The services closed, and the stranger lingered as before. My friend, good Mrs. G. again forgot to speak to the girl. She passed out of the church slowly, and did not come again. I thought she must have left town, as I had not seen her for several days; but one Sabbath, as I attended another church, I saw her again. She seemed a little more at ease, I thought, and a quiet smile on her face. After the services were concluded, I saw many a pleasant smile given to the stranger girl, and I understood the secret of the changed look upon her face. I made some inquiries, and learned that she had joined this church, and was earnest and active in all its work. I also learned that she had made a profession of religion just before coming to our village, and had an unusually clear experience. How much the indifference of our own people had to do with her finding a home in another church, I know not.
Several years have passed since this occurred but I have never forgotten it. Many a stranger hand I have clasped as I thought of Annie Linton’s sweet face. I was young in Christian experience then, and that lesson was a profitable one to me.
Speak to the stranger, Christian friend, with the assurance that no evil will grow out of it. It is better sometimes to step over the rules of etiquette than to chill some warm stream of God’s new-given love by coldness and indifference.
Loving words are rays of sunshine
Falling on the path of life
Driving out the gloom and shadow
Born of weariness and strife.
Often we forget our troubles
When a friendship voice is heard
They are banished by the magic
Of a kind and helpful word.
Keep not back a word of kindness
When the chance to speak it comes
Though it seems to you a trifle
Many a heart that grief benumbs.
Will grow strong and brave to bear it
And the world will brighter grow
Just because the word was spoken
Try it—you will find it so.