Meant to Live: Chapter 2
After the death of Christine’s father, a new minister came to pastor their church. He was a young single man and had evidently received a large amount of inheritance from relatives.
When Christine was twelve years old, this new pastor visited her mother. It was a private call and all the children were outside at the time. After he had left, Christine was called inside.
“Christine, I need to speak with you,” she said thoughtfully.
Christine seated herself, wondering what this was all about.
“Pastor John came to speak about you. He is concerned that you are not getting the education you need as a young lady. And, in part, I agree. He was very generous; he told me he would pay the tuition for you to attend Rosewood Girl’s Academy until you were eighteen. I am very inclined to take him up on his offer. What do you think, Christine?”
Christine was quite taken aback by this sudden proposal. Having lived in the country her whole life and surrounded by her family, such thoughts were quite new. But after some consideration, it was decided that she would go. Only a few weeks later, a church member drove her to the train which she took to the academy. There she delivered Pastor John’s payment and began her education.
The first few months were very hard for Christine. Being away from her family and her home routine was difficult. She struggled with homesickness and was worried how her mother was doing without her. She often wrote home but cried upon reading the replies.
Christine never felt so at home except when she was reading her Bible and other books. She also enjoyed being outdoors as she had at home, but when outside it was difficult to avoid being with the other girls. The girls of the academy were very different from Christine. They did not value what she valued--God, the Bible, and obedience. Christine was often disgusted by what the girls did value--beauty, reputation, and boys. She often felt uncomfortable and uneasy around these girls. That is why she avoided them as much as she could. The only fellow Christian was one of their carriage drivers, Mr. Brady, whom Christine saw rarely.
But let me now resume our story.
When the party at the Trenton Boy’s Academy finally arrived, Christine wondered if she had to attend. She was not at all interested in such a party and would much rather stay back.
At lunch, Christine took a seat beside Miss Allan, the teacher of the Needlework class.
“Miss Allan,” Christine began, “Must we all attend the party this afternoon?”
“Of course we must!” Miss Allan seemed surprised at the question. “To think that one would not go when we were so kindly invited! Do you mean to say that you are not wanting to go?”
Christine looked at her plate. “Well, I am sure it will be a fun party.”
“Yes, I am sure it will be and we all must be extremely grateful.”
So that was that; Christine was resigned to her fate.
At four-thirty, the girls all rushed to their rooms to prepare for the party. It only took Christine a few moments to put on a nice Sunday dress and put a bow in her hair. But it took nearly an hour for all the other girls to get ready.
As the time approached for the girls and ladies to leave, Christine became more and more nervous. She felt very uneasy around boys, owing to the fact that she rarely interacted with any. But she was also not interested in such things as dancing and games.
Finally they left. Christine sent up silent prayers as her heart began to beat quicker. As they arrived, the girls flooded out of the carriages and tried hard to remain lady-like. The door was answered by a tall young man. Christine wondered if he was a teacher or a student. They were lead down the corridor to a large room they called The Hall. Inside they saw tables and chairs spread around the perimeter. The center of the hall was cleared for the games and dances. The girls whispered amongst themselves; there were no boys in sight. Only a few distinguished-looking men walked in toward Miss Martin and the other teachers.
The girls became quiet as the man spoke. “We are very pleased that you ladies could join us this evening. The young gentlemen will be down presently and then we will begin the party.”
The men departed, leaving the girls giggling and whispering. But not for long.
“Girls!” Miss Martin demanded attention. “You must remember all you have been taught. A young lady is not to whisper or giggle in the presence of young men. You must follow all orders given you and not grumble. Be respectful to the young men and not chatty. Remember that proper young ladies do not pursue young men; let the young men come to you.”
Just then the door opened and in walked a long string of boys, or perhaps I should say men. The young men of the academy ranged in age from twelve to nineteen.
Once all the young men had entered the room, they were followed by the teachers and head master, Mr. Range. He stood in front of the large group and began.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I am sure we are all excited for this evening. I would like to remind you all to remain appropriate and respectful to each other. We will begin our evening by greeting each other. Then we will move on to our games for the night.”
For the next several minutes, the young men mingled among the girls, greeting them and thanking them for coming. Christine became very nervous but was glad that she did not have to do anything at all. Several young men greeted her as well. One in particular seemed exceptionally courteous.
“Hello, my name is Charlie. I am glad you were all able to attend our party tonight.”
“Thank you for the invitation,” Christine managed to say. “My name is Christine.” They shook hands and Charlie nodded to her.