From the Juvenile Instructor, August 1910 –
Walter Chase’s Experience
By Annie Malin
“That settles it!” exclaimed Walter Chase, angrily, as he entered the room in which his mother sat reading her Bible. “I’ll not try to teach a Sunday School class again.”
“Why, Walter, what has happened?” questioned his mother, in surprise.
“Everything unpleasant has happened,” answered Walter, an ugly frown disfiguring his usually pleasant countenance. “John Roberts was impertinent, and the other boys encouraged him in his impertinence, and the girls did nothing but giggle and make remarks. I am perfectly discouraged, and shall go to Brother Mason with my resignation this very day.”
“But, my son,” said Mrs. Chase, gently, “don’t be too hasty. Think the matter over and you may see it in a different light. It was only a few weeks ago that Brother Mason spoke in praise of your work in the Sabbath School, and I was so proud of my son.”
“That only makes it more discouraging,” replied the young man, “and to make matters worse, he had brought two visitors from another Stake who wished to compare my class with theirs and gets points from it. Think of it, mother! To get points,” and Walter’s anger blazed forth stronger than ever as he felt again the humiliation of the morning. “To think my boys and girls could so humiliate me, and in the presence of visitors, it is unbearable.”
He strode from the room and his mother heard him mount the stairs and enter his own apartment, shutting the door and turning the key.
She sighed deeply and tried to resume her reading, but finding it impossible to concentrate her mind upon it, she closed the book and sat deep in thought.
Presently a shadow darkened the window, and her brother’s voice broke the silence, saying pleasantly:
“What are you dreaming about, Mary?”
Mrs. Chase rose gladly to welcome him. “I am so glad to see you, Jack,” she said, as she kissed him. “I am troubled about Walter, and need your advice.”
“Walter?” said Uncle Jack, in surprise. “What in the world has Walter been doing to cause such a tone as that?”
Mrs. Chase told him of Walter’s trouble with his class and waited anxiously for her brother’s opinion, for Uncle Jack was so wise and strong that his advice was asked upon all important subjects, his sister depending upon his judgment; for, she had been a widow for several years, and had felt the responsibility of raising her only son in the proper manner. She seldom failed to feel comforted and cheered by confiding her troubles to him, although he was several years the younger.
Walter was a good son, but was inclined to be hasty in both action and speech. He had been willing to take a class in Sabbath School, and had tried to interest the class in the lesson. He thought it was only right that the boys and girls should appreciate his endeavors in their behalf, by being attentive and respectful, and such had been their attitude for a time, and Walter had been proud of his success. Then John Roberts and one or two more had joined the class, and brought a new spirit, the spirit of unrest and impertinence, which so often comes in to spoil a model class and discourage the teacher.
Uncle Jack listened attentively, and after a moment’s consideration, he said: “Don’t worry, Mary, it will come out all right.”
“But, Jack,” said Mrs. Chase, tremulously – “If he gives up his class he will give up Sunday School altogether; I am afraid he will drift away entirely if he does that.”
Just then Walter entered the room, hat in hand. He greeted his uncle affectionately, for he admired and respected him very much.
“Where are you going, Walter?” asked his mother, as he was about to open the door.
“Over to Brother Mason’s,” replied the young man decisively, and at the tone his mother’s heart sank.
“Suppose we talk it all over first, my boy,” suggested Uncle Jack. “Your mother has been telling me you are feeling discouraged with your Sunday School work.”
“It will do no good to talk it over,” asserted Walter. “I have gone over the matter carefully, and I have made up my mind. I can’t, and won’t put up with it any longer. My discipline is broken down, my method ridiculed. I would not endure again the humiliation which I endured this morning for a hundred classes; and as to John Roberts, why, Uncle Jack, I really feel that I could give him a good sound thrashing, one which he would never forget. I have tried to have patience with him, thinking he would do better; I have talked to him kindly as long as I could. Today I threatened to tell his parents, and he laughed in my face.
“If you had been there I am sure you would not blame me, Uncle Jack. I do not wish to cause dissension, and so I will leave the class to someone wiser than I am.”
“I am not blaming you, but pardon me if I say that you have not yet the right spirit of the Gospel,” said Uncle Jack, kindly. Walter stared at him in amazement.
“Why, Uncle Jack, how can you say that?” he asked in surprise. “I put my heart in the work and tried to do my duty – what more could I do? I took pride in making my class among the best, and I cannot agree with you in what you say.”
Uncle Jack laid a kind hand on the young man’s shoulder. “It is true, my boy, you have not the true spirit of the Gospel, but you are not alone in that, by any means. In your anger at the humiliation of your pride and in the apparent downfall of your discipline, which you thought more than ordinarily good, you lose sight of the fact that the soul of one of God’s children is in danger, grave danger, a danger more real, perhaps, than you can imagine.
“Is that the spirit of the Gospel? Is that the spirit shown by the Savior? Did He study His own feelings, and think of His pride or His physical comfort when His children needed Him? Did He forget that His love and forgiveness were necessary for the salvation of the souls of those who had gone astray? Did He give up teaching the truth because He was held up to ridicule? What if your pride is humbled! It is in a good cause.
“Think it over, my boy, and pray over it, too; don’t be hasty. No doubt the visitors understood the situation. Very likely they had sometime been placed in the same position, for boys are the same the world over; among them are some unruly spirits.”
“Did you ever have such a boy to contend with?” asked Walter, interested in spite of himself.
“Yes, indeed,” answered Uncle Jack, with a twinkle of his eye. “I did, and the worst of it was, the boy was myself.”
“Surely you were never such a boy,” said Walter, in amazement.
“Yes,” said he, gravely, “and if it had not been for my Sunday School teacher I shudder to think of the man I might have become.”
“I thought you were always a model,” said Walter, and Uncle Jack smiled.
“I am not proud of my story,” he said, “but I will tell you about it. I was not really vicious, but I had gotten in with a crowd of boys who encouraged me in a sort of defiant attitude which I took toward my Sunday School teacher. He was one of the best young men I ever knew, and in my heart I admired and respected him.
“Still I was foolishly proud of the position I held among the boys, and thought more of their admiration than of my lessons. At last I wore out the patience of my teacher, and he made up his mind that the class would be better without me in it. I was really ashamed of my own actions, but of course thought I would be a coward to give in. He talked to me kindly, but I only laughed at him and answered him impertinently. Through some of the boys my father heard of it and gave me the thrashing I richly deserved, but then and there I resolved to leave home. It doesn’t matter now how I took what money I had and went by train as far as I was able, nor how I slept in stacks and almost starved for a week after that. I stole a ride on a train and fell in with a gang of really bad boys, who made me believe they were going to work in a certain city, and that if I liked I could go with them. I believed them, and looked upon them as ill-used boys like myself. However, when we reached the city, to my horror, we were all arrested, and I found out what it was to be judged by the company in which I was found, for the others had been guilty of robbing a house, and I was supposed to be one of the gang. I was locked up over night, and though sick with fright, I had no way of proving my innocence. Then some of my Sabbath School lessons came to my mind, and I fell on my knees and prayed for assistance.
“Somehow I felt comforted, and soon fell asleep, only waking when the next day had dawned. Sometime later I was told that someone wanted to see me, and to my unspeakable joy, in walked my teacher. He had blamed himself for my foolish action in leaving home, and had followed every clue; disregarding physical discomforts, he had managed to find me. I need not tell you, my boy, how glad I was to get away from that city. I had never realized how much love a teacher has for his class if he has the right spirit.
“How eloquently he talked to me, until he made me see the danger I had been in; not only the danger of being locked up for a long period, but the more serious danger of descending to the level of those who would have led my soul into danger.
“Well, he took me away from the place as soon as possible, and I can tell you it was none too soon to suit me, and I was glad to reach home and friends again. I felt that I could not do enough to show my heartfelt gratitude to my teacher, but it did not matter very much, for my sister made ample amends by becoming his wife,” and Uncle Jack laughed.
“Yes, Walter,” he concluded, “that young man became your father, and you are very much like him.”
Walter’s eyes were full of tears; he had dearly loved his good father.
“I am afraid my father would be ashamed of me today,” he said.
After a few moments, he said, earnestly, “Thank you, Uncle Jack, I shall not soon forget this lesson.”
Then he again took up his hat, but this time he kissed his mother, and said:
“I am going to find John Roberts.”
Soon afterwards he returned accompanied by a boy whom he introduced to his uncle and mother as “John Roberts, one of my Sunday School class.”
The two then repaired to Walter’s room and were soon heard discussing the treasures which Walter had collected.
Uncle Jack and his sister exchanged happy glances, and the former said:
“Bless the boy, Mary, he is very much like his father.”
“Yes,” was her reply, “and he is like his uncle, too.”
Uncle Jack laughed. “You always were partial to your brother,” he said.
After his visitor had gone home, Walter told his mother and uncle that he had been trying to look at the boy through the eyes of love instead of looking for faults, and had really found much to admire in him.
“And just think of it,” he said; “he was trying to make up his mind to ask my pardon for his conduct, when I met him and asked him to forgive my lack of patience. You should have seen his face then,” he concluded. “I have faith in him now, and who knows but what he may become as good a man as you, Uncle Jack, for I believe he will merit my faith.”
And he did.