Ethelyn's Mistake (Chapter 8, page 1 of 3)


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Chapter 8

Andy was a character in his way. A fall from his horse upon the ground
had injured his head when he was a boy, and since that time he had been
what his mother called a little queer, while the neighbors spoke of him
as simple Andy, or Mrs. Markham's half-wit, who did the work of a girl
and knit all his own socks. He was next to Richard in point of age, but
he looked younger than either of his brothers, for his face was round
and fair, and smooth as any girl's. It is true that every Sunday of his
life he made a great parade with lather and shaving-cup, standing before
the glass in his shirt-sleeves, just as the other boys did, and
flourishing his razor around his white throat and beardless face, to the
amusement of anyone who chanced to see him for the first time.

In his younger days, when the tavern at the Cross Roads was just opened,
Andy had been a sore trial to both mother and brothers, and many a
night, when the rain and sleet were driving across the prairies, Richard
had left the warm fireside and gone out in the storm after the erring
Andy, who had more than once been found by the roadside, with his hat
jammed into every conceivable shape, his face scratched, and a tell-tale
smell about his breath which contradicted his assertion "that somebody
had knocked him down."

Andy had been intemperate, and greatly given to what the old Captain in
Chicopee had designated as "busts"; but since the time when the church
missionary, young Mr. Townsend, had come to Olney, and held his first
service in the log schoolhouse, Andy had ceased to frequent the Cross
Roads tavern, and Richard went no more in the autumnal storms to look
for his wayward brother. There was something in the beautiful simplicity
of the church service which went straight to Andy's heart, and more than
all, there was something in Mr. Townsend's voice, and manner, and face,
which touched a responsive chord in the breast of the boyish Andy, and
when at last the bishop came to that section of Iowa, his hands were
first laid in blessing on the bowed head of Andy, who knelt to receive
the rite of confirmation in the presence of a large concourse of people,
to most of whom the service and ceremony were entirely new.

While rejoicing and thanking God for the change, which she felt was
wholly sincere, Mrs. Markham had deeply deplored the pertinacity with
which Andy had clung to his resolve to join "Mr. Townsend's church or
none." She did not doubt Mr. Townsend's piety or Andy's either, but she
doubted the Episcopalians generally because they did not require more
than God himself requires, and it hurt her sore that Andy should go with
them rather than to her church across the brook, where Father Aberdeen
preached every Sunday against the pride, and pomp, and worldliness
generally of his Episcopal brethren. Andy believed in Mr. Townsend, and
in time he came to believe heart and soul in the church doctrines as
taught by him, and the beautiful consistency of his daily life was to
his mother like a constant and powerful argument in favor of the church
to which he belonged, while to his brothers it was a powerful argument
in favor of the religion he professed.

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