Two Kinds of Service by Unknown
"Have you put up my dinner, Maude?"
John Melvin asked the question almost timidly. His daughter's face was
clouded, her lips were compressed, and she was making a great deal of
unnecessary noise as she moved about the kitchen. She did not reply at
once, and when she spoke it was in no pleasant voice.
"Yes, father, your dinner is ready. Now I must put up the children's
dinners, and there is the ironing to do, and I must do some cooking
also. This will be a busy day with me, but all my days seem to be busy.
Perhaps I do not understand how to keep ahead of the work. I have no
time for recreation; there seems to be nothing in life for me but
Mr. Melvin sighed heavily.
"I am sorry, Maude. If last season's crops had not failed, I should
have hired some stout woman to do the heavy work. It is too much for
you, a girl of nineteen, to have all these cares; but what can I do?"
"You can do nothing, father, and no one is to blame. I expect to be a
drudge. Amy," raising her voice, "where are you? Go and pick up the
breakfast dishes, and be quick about it. It isn't time to get ready for
school. Fred, what are you doing? Haven't I told you not to whistle in
the kitchen? Oh, dear! one needs more patience than any mortal ever
"I am sorry, Maude," said Mr. Melvin, again. "It was a sad day for us
all when your mother died."
And then the discouraged man, old and worn before his time, took his
dinner-pail and started for the distant wood-lot.
Maude continued to move rapidly about the kitchen and pantry, doing the
morning's work and scolding the children in a shrill voice.
"What's the use of being so cross, Maude?" asked Amy, a bright-eyed girl
of twelve. "I can't see that it does any good."
"I can't be so easy as you are, Amy. I wish things didn't fret me, but
they do. And you have an easy time, while I have to work like a slave."
"I'm sure I help you all I can, Maude. I don't suppose you want me to
stay out of school to work."
"You know I don't. You won't have time to do any more this morning.
Now, Fred, I told you to study hard to-day and not fail in your
"All right sis," rejoined Fred carelessly.
"Fred, how many times have I told you not to call me 'Sis?' I am tired
beyond endurance. I don't want to hear another word from you this
morning, sir," she added as she saw the boy was about to speak.
As the children left the house, Fred looked significantly at his sister.
"Wasn't Maude cross this morning? How she did bang things!"
Amy puckered up her brow.
"I can't understand it, Fred. Maude is always scolding."
"Yes, and she belongs to the church. I'm glad I'm not a Christian, if
"Oh, hush, Fred! Christian people are happier than we are."
"Humph! Maude professes to be a Christian, but she can't be happy. Seems
to me she's the unhappiest person I know. Papa doesn't belong to the
church, but he isn't always scolding."
"Well, I can't understand it," sighed Amy. "But, Fred, you know mama was
"She was a real Christian, too," said Fred soberly. "But I guess it's
hard work to be the real thing. Maude must be a make-believe one," he
"Oh, hush, Fred! I don't like to hear you say such things."
Left alone, Maude's hands were busy. At dinner time she ate a lunch,
and at two o'clock was through her work.
"Everything's in order," she thought, as she looked about the neat
kitchen. "And I'm not going to touch a bit of sewing this afternoon.
I'll go into the sitting-room and rest until it's time to think about
In the pleasant little sitting-room Maude sat down in an easy rocker at
the front window and looked out over the snow-covered fields. Presently
she saw the bent form of a little old lady in a black coat and red hood
coming up the path.
"Aunt Sarah Easler," she said to herself, "and coming here, too."
The old lady came in without knocking and Maude rose to meet her. Aunt
Sarah seemed much agitated. She took both of the girl's hands in hers,
tears streaming from her eyes.
"What is it, Aunt Sarah?" cried Maude. "Has anything happened?"
"My poor child! My poor child! May God help you!"
Maude felt herself growing faint, but she resolutely banished the
"What has happened?" she asked, in a voice so calm that it astonished
herself. "The children?"
"The children are all right, my dear. It is your father."
"My father! What of him? Is he hurt?"
The old lady bowed her head and replied in a broken voice: "Badly hurt,
Maude grasped Aunt Sarah's arm.
"Your face tells me that it is even worse than that," she said, calmly.
"Is he dead?"
"My poor child!"
"You need say no more. I know he is."
Even as Maude spoke, she looked out of the window and saw four men
bearing her father's form on a stretcher. She did not faint or cry out,
but in a moment her mind went back over the three years that had passed
since her mother's death, and she saw wherein she had failed as a
daughter and sister.
Tears came to her relief, and as they gushed down over her cheeks she
awoke with a start. She looked out of the window. Oh, thank God! no men
were in sight, bearing her father's form on a stretcher.
"It was a dream," she murmured. "Heavenly Father, I thank thee!" And she
formed a few resolutions and lifted up her heart in prayer for help.
"How terribly I have erred and wandered from the way," she said aloud.
"This dream has opened my eyes, and I see what I have been doing. What
must have papa thought of me? No wonder that he is not a Christian. I
have wondered, too, that the children have been so indifferent to
religious teaching, but the influence of my life has spoiled everything.
But, thank God! the present is mine, my dear ones are spared to me, and
henceforth I will strive to have my life count for Christ."
When the children came that night they looked in wonder at their sister.
There was a smile on her face, and her voice was gentle when she spoke
to them. The tea-table was neatly spread and Fred saw his favorite hot
rolls. Presently Mr. Melvin came in, somewhat timidly, expecting as
usual to hear complaints and impatient exclamations from Maude. Instead,
she greeted him pleasantly.
"Tired, father? Supper's ready. I've made some of the toast you like and
opened a can of peaches.
"I suppose you are very tired, Maude," said Mr. Melvin, looking
wonderingly at his daughter.
"I'm a little tired, father, but I'm thankful for the privilege of
getting tired. I have a comfortable home, and we are all in good health.
You see, father, I am beginning to count my blessings. I have been a
fault-finding, ungrateful girl, and have made you all unhappy; but I
hope to make some amends for the past."
"God bless you, my daughter!" said John Melvin, huskily.