Heather, and Adventist Girl (1889) Book 2 Chapter 6

Chapter 6

New Beginnings

 

We left off as Mr.Hart walked into the tent, spotting his wife and small daughter. He has observed them giving their lives to Christ. Heather has no idea how he will react.

Mrs. Hart’s reaction, though, is telling.

Suddenly, she saw him right in front of her!

“Oh, dear!” Mrs. Hart clasped her hand to her chest. “Daniel, I didn’t expect to see you here.” She smiled broadly, but Heather thought that she looked nervous.

I don’t agree with Mrs. Hart’s choices here. I think Mr. Hart is absolutely right not to get involved with the Adventists. However, Mrs. Hart should be able to go to church without being afraid of her husband. The fact that his appearance makes her nervous is telling.

Mr. Hart asks where Mr. Gibson is, and Heather tells him. He calls Addie “Peanut” and kisses her on the top of the head. Addie informs him that he hasn’t called her “Peanut” since she was 6.

This… is a clunky bit of exposition. I’m also not sure what it’s supposed to demonstrate. Spoiler alert, it’s supposed to demonstrate that Mr. Hart is a changed man. Ok, but, even atheists call their daughters “Peanut.” Atheists aren’t all assholes, you know.

Mr. Hart comes up to Mr. Gibson and says,

“I owe you an apology. I didn’t mean to go crook on you the other day.”

Heather and Addie have a whispered conversation, in which Addie informs the audience that “to go crook” means: “he didn’t mean to be unpleasant to your father.”

Except that I’m pretty certain he did, but, moving on.

Mr. Gibson accepts Mr. Hart’s apology. Mr. Hart doesn’t stop there.

“I have something to share with all of you,” he said, looking around at the group. “This has been an incredible few days.”

….

“After I left home a few days ago,” he began, “I started on the road to Alice Springs. I thought that maybe I could find some work shearing sheep. Well, things didn’t go as I’d hoped. With the recession and drought and all, there were more blokes like me out looking for work than there are sheep to be sheared.”

Heather asks Addie what a bloke is. “A Man,” replies Addie hurriedly.

I feel like “bloke” is a common enough term most Americans don’t need an explanation for it. But let that pass.

“The second night a bunch of us set up camp. There was this one bloke there who started talking to me about Jesus all of a sudden. He kept talking and talking. I didn’t want to hear any more about religion, so I got angry with him. Real angry.” Mr. Hart looked down at his hands. “I punched him square in the jaw.”

Go Mr. Hart! Er, provided it was your last resort. Asking him to stop nicely may or may not have worked….

All joking aside, this is probably another reason why Mrs. Hart was nervous. It looks like Mr. Hart is prone to violent outbursts. Combined with the guilt trip he gave Mrs.Hart earlier about going to camp meeting, this is a red flag.

“The funniest thing happened. He was a real big bloke and could have easily knocked me out. But instead he just said, “You must be runnin’ from God to have that much anger pent up inside.'” Mr. Hart wrung his hands together.

Atheists don’t really not believe in God. They’re just really angry at him. Or they’re running away from him. Telling them this totally won’t just royally piss them off.

If the author was going for “1800s version of Jonah,” she failed miserably. Mr. Hart, here, isn’t running from God. He’s running from the Adventists.

“I suddenly realized that he was right.” Mr. Hart was quiet for a moment. “I spent the whole night praying to God and asking for his forgiveness. The next morning I felt more refreshed than if I’d had a full night’s sleep. I realized that if I follow God, He’ll take care of me and my family and their needs.”

  1. Not a realistic reaction to being told, “you must be running away from God.” If someone told me that, my response would be to roll my eyes. Or, if I was prone to violent outbursts like Mr. Hart obviously is, I’d punch whoever said that in the face. In this case, again.
  2. Adventists will tell you that they don’t know of anyone who’s needs the Lord doesn’t provide for. Because there are absolutely zero homeless Christians….
  3. Relying on an invisible sky daddy to take care of your family? Bad plan. I give Mr. Hart a pass only because he doesn’t use this as an excuse to stop job hunting.

“I’m a new man,” Mr. Hart said, tears streaming down his face. “I still don’t have work, but I have Jesus, and I believe he’ll take care of the rest.”

The author gets .05 bonus points for Mr. Hart not getting a job immediately upon his conversion. That’s the only way this possibly could have been worse.

We get a section break, and it’s time for a baptism! In Dora Creek! I wonder if the water is cold? Heather doesn’t really say one way or the other. Heather, Laura, and the Harts are getting baptized. Their baptismal robes are beige. Huh. Our modern baptismal ones were a dark blue. Sometimes they’re black.

They all giggle over how long Heather’s baptismal robe is. Yawn.

We get a line about Mrs. Gibson feeling stronger than she used to, before Mr. Gibson asks if the Harts have arrived yet. Apparently he let Nathan drive the buggy to pick them up. Heather’s mom tells her how proud she is of the “Christian Woman” Heather is becoming. It’s a realistic sort of thing to say, but really awkward to read.

Heather is excited when Nathan pulls up. Apparently it’s been one month since campmeeting, because that’s how long we’re told it’s been since Heather has seen Addie.

And, surprise! Addie’s wearing glasses, the same kind Heather has. Addie tells the other 2 girls that her father has a new job at a biscuit factory.

“He says at least it’s honorable work, and he always brings home lots of these.” [Addie] opened her hand. Inside were two cookies with sweet red jam centers. She handed one to each of her friends.

It is to her credit that the author does not feel a need to shoe horn in an explanation of why they make cookies at a biscuit factory. Most American children already know that in some countries “biscuit” means “cookie.”

Addie puts on a baptismal robe. Mr. Gibson is just about to pray when Mrs. White arrives. She joins the circle, winks at Heather, and tells her how happy she is to be there.

After a prayer, the candidates for dunking step into the river.

Now, baptism can be a very exciting emotional experience. I well remember how I felt during my own baptism. The feeling I experienced can only be compared to being high on marijuana. It was an emotional rush. And yes, it is totally normal for one to be nervous before a baptism, because it is traditionally done in front of a crowd.

As Mr. Hart gets baptized, tears run down Heather’s cheeks. She’s not the only one. Laura is also crying.

“Heather,” Elder Palmer called soothingly. “It’s your turn.”

Heather’s stomach felt like it was full of buterflies.(sic)

Dear Adventist editors,

DO YOU EVEN CARE?

love, the Abominable Snowman.

Elder Palmer squeezed her hand. Heather…. grinned.

“I’m privileged to be in the waters of baptism today with Heather Gibson,” Elder Palmer began. She loves Jesus and wants to follow Him. Heather has decided this day to pledge her love and commitment to him publicly.”

Heather shivered and shook with anticipation.

“Heather,” Elder Palmer said, and leaned her back against his left arm, “Because you love Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.”

Heather took a big breath and pinched her eyes closed.

Very important to take a breath right before he pulls you under. For me, this was practiced in private before hand. Usually the pastor will put a cloth over your face, so that water doesn’t get in your nose. Baptisms are actually pretty well choreographed.

Gently, Elder Palmer lowered her under the water. The cool water washed over her face, and then Elder Palmer gently lifted her back out again. Heather blinked the water out of her eyes.

“Amen,” everyone said at once.

Heather smiled at them through the water droplets. She felt wonderfully happy and close to heaven.

Eh, close enough. I would rather have this than have an author try to over describe it and fail. Which is what authors usually end up doing. So, 1.5 credit points to the author.

Everyone sings a hymn. We don’t get to know which one.

Nathan shuffled over to her. “Hey Heather,” he mumbled. “That was pretty fine.”

Aunt Rachel tells Heather she’s very proud of her. I don’t honestly see why. Yes it’s a big step for an Adventist, but the thing is, it’s also quite normal. At some point, there will be raised eyebrows if Heather isn’t baptized. I would expect the average age of baptism in the 1800s to be different, but at least in my generation if you made it all the way to Academy without being baptized, there were raised eyebrows. What Heather is doing today isn’t so much taking a stand for what she believes in. What Heather is doing is going along with the flow of her culture.

Laura points out Ethel and May, who are watching from the other side of the creek.

Ethel Reynolds and May Evans stood together looking down at them. Ethel seemed to notice Heather looking back at them and quickly locked her arm with May’s. In a moment they disappeared.

Head canon: Ethel and May are so over this shit.

Aunt Rachel reminds Heather and Laura that school will be in session again soon. She asks Heather whether or not she plans to wear her new glasses to school.

It seems like a weird question. I feel like enough time has passed in the book that Heather would have gotten used to the glasses, and it wouldn’t be a big deal anymore. The glasses haven’t really been mentioned much at all throughout the story, and hearing about them again kind of jolts me. Like, I thought this issue got resolved in chapter 2?

Heather adjusted her eye glasses on her nose. “I’ll wear them proudly,” She answered confidently. “Just like Addie does. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. I know that Jesus loves me just the way I am.”

The book ends with Aunt Rachel smugly saying, “I just knew it!”

I don’t have an issue with “Jesus loves me just as I am.” That message is fine. What I don’t understand is why it was shoe horned into the last few pages. Was Jesus loving Heather ever an actual issue? We never saw Heather sit there wondering whether Jesus would approve of her new eye glasses. We only saw her worrying about what Ethel and May would think. If  Heather had slowly come to realize, over the course of the book, that what Ethel and May think doesn’t matter, that I could get behind.

But that’s not how this book goes. This book starts out with Heather’s anxiety over her new glasses, gets wrapped up in the conversion of the Hart family, and then at the end it’s BAM–OH YEAH THE EYEGLASSES I FORGOT ABOUT. It may be nitpicky but it’s kind of jarring.

Anyway, that’s the end of the second book. We’ll pick up the 3rd book….soon. After I get my homework done.

 

 

 

 

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