We last left off with Heather, Aunt Rachel, and her father having dinner at Mrs. Reid’s house. Now it is 2 months later, and Heather and Laura are walking to school. I’d say something about the abrupt time skip, but frankly I’m not sure it’s much different from American Girl, and it also makes it more plausible that Aunt Rachel and Pastor John have had time to develop an actual romance. It makes the news seem less abrupt, so, ok.
Laura and Heather complain about having to go to school, and then Laura wishes it would be Sabbath.
Said no SDA child ever. Because Sabbath is still getting up early in the morning to go spend time with people you hate. I mean, this community is small. Laura and Heather do see Ethel and May at church, right?
“Is your Father part of the big church meetings that are going on?” [Laura] asked Heather.
These would be interesting to hear about. What is discussed at them? I get that kids wouldn’t be too involved, but adults talk. Adults especially talk about really important upcoming votes, like whether or not Australia should unite and be their own country. When are we going to hear about that and how it affects Adventist church structure? Are changes coming to the Australian church? It is possible to explain these things so a child could understand. But we don’t get to hear about it. That’s disappointing.
As [Heather and Laura] passed the boy’s dormitory, a flood of adults poured down the steps. They were all staying at the college for the business session of the Australasian Union Conference.
Australasian Union conference? Is that still a thing? These books are supposed to teach me about Adventist history…. teach dammit.
Pastor Reid, part of the crowd, waves to Heather.
“How nice to see you again,” he said…. His eyes smiled along with his mouth.
I understand what the author was trying to say…. but I am just picturing a pair of eyes with smiley faces on them. Kinda creepy, but so are 99.9% of all Adventist pastors I’ve ever met.
Ethel comes over just as Pastor John is explaining that he’ll be coming over to Heather’s house for Sabbath lunch the next day.
“Uncle John!” Ethel protested. “I thought you would be spending Sabbath with us.”
“Don’t worry,” Pastor Reid assured her, “we’ll have plenty of time together. The meetings last for 3 weeks.”
Ethel shuffled her feet and stuck out her lower lip.
Poor Ethel. She’s probably afraid of losing one of her only friends. As a know-it-all, she’s probably not as popular as Heather and Laura perceive. Uncle John is probably one of the only people she feels she can talk to, because she’s socially awkward. There’s no real in text evidence for this, but it’s probably a fair guess considering what we’ve been shown.
I can sympathize with Ethel a little bit. Only a little bit. For the most part Ethel brings her isolation upon herself. And in text she has May as a friend, soooo? There’s no real in text reason given for her being so mean. She doesn’t want to share her uncle John…. why? We don’t get told. In fact, I was halfway expecting a confrontation of some sort between Heather and Ethel, where Ethel admits she doesn’t want to share Uncle John because insert reasons here. The fact that we don’t get that is probably a bit more realistic, but also less satisfying.
Heather hums happily as she goes into the schoolroom, and Ethel snarls at her to stop.
I agree with Ethel. Hummers and singers are annoying. Shut the fuck up and save it for the goddamn choir. Nobody wants to hear your
wailing caterwauling impromptu singing.
Mrs. Hughes announces that the General Conference President, an “Elder Irwin,” has come to visit their class. Credit where credit is due: this part is both informative and entertaining. Elder Irwin passes around a small pebble, and asks who can tell him what it is.
Nathan, Heather’s older brother, correctly identifies it as gold. Elder Irwin tells us that the gold pebble is from Nome, Alaska, found during the beginning of the Klondike gold rush.
“This morning I want to tell you a little about what has been happening in the United States, which is my home. If you listen carefully you might even hear some more about the gold rush.”
Only if you listen carefully, though. He’s not gonna like, make it obvious or anything by bringing in a piece of gold and mentioning the gold rush.
Adults like this think they’re good with children, but when they say things like that, child!me always felt more annoyed than anything.
And then there’s a section break. So we don’t actually get to learn what is going on in the United States at this time. Which, ok, fair enough. The point is to learn about Adventist history and Australia, so we should probably stick to that.
I don’t know why Elder Irwin said he was going to talk about what was going on in the United States, because he brought up Alaska, which didn’t join the Union until 1959. Actually, I read a bit more, and the US had purchased the land by 1867, so I guess I am confused. Why did it take nearly 100 years after being purchased for the State to join the union?
This is never explained. Why even bring it up if you’re not going to explain this?
We cut to Sabbath morning in church, which sounds boring. Ellen White is preaching, so extra boring with a side of crazy.
Nathan is sitting on Heather’s dress, and refuses to move. Apparently the church is packed, probably because the prophet is preaching.
Heather tried to listen to the sermon, but she felt so uncomfortable.
Every generation of SDA children everywhere just gave a little nod of sympathy for Heather.
We are told that Mr. O’Leary, the man staying with the Gibson family, is extremely interested in the sermon and has no problems paying attention.
Heather rushes outside after the closing hymn and starts “twirling happily in the sunlight.” Ethel scowls at her, which makes Heather twirl even more. Aunt Rachel finally stops her, telling her she’s going to knock someone over and make herself dizzy.
Then Aunt Rachel spots Pastor Reid, and there goes her attention.
Heather and Nathan run home. Heather says they should hurry up and get the dinner ready before the others arrive. Nathan tells Heather he’d rather change his clothes, but that she can go ahead. Heather whines a bit about how Nathan doesn’t want to help her, which, well yeah, can you blame him? Poor thing probably wants to get out of that suit and tie ASAP.
Heather’s parents, Pastor Reid, and Aunt Rachel arrive. After pastor Reid says the prayer, he immediately announces that he has asked Rachel Nash to marry him. It is rather odd to ask immediately after the blessing, but meh.
“She has accepted,” Pastor Reid said, “but we would like your blessing.”
I know, I know, it was the 1800s…. but was it usual to ask the person’s uncle? Usually it was the girl’s father. Should he not have sent him a letter? I’m so glad it’s not the 1800s anymore.
Mr. Gibson says that if Rachel has accepted, he won’t stand in the way. He is excited about having Pastor Reid in the family, and everyone hugs. Lots of happiness, bla bla.
And then Heather realizes something that took Ethel only 10 seconds to put together.
[Heather] was scooping out a big spoon of potatoes when all at once she stopped with the spoon in mid air. A terrible thought had just raced through her mind. Oh no, she thought. I’ll be related to Ethel!
Heather has known they have been dating (or courting or whatever you called it back then) for quite some time now. How has it taken her months to put this together?
You know, this could have actually worked. Heather and Ethel, realizing they have a common goal, try and sabotage the relationship because they don’t want to be cousins. In the process Heather and Ethel realize they have come to like each other, and eventually fess up and repair John and Rachel’s relationship.
I would still find this cliche and overdone, but it would be something. It would be interested to read. We’re kinda sorta set up for a Heather-Ethel confrontation, and it never happens. Which may be more realistic, but realistic doesn’t always make for great reading.