After Pearl’s miraculous recovery, the author turns her attention to the other main plot–Arthur and Pearl’s budding romance. Not one to let a little deathly illness interfere with his love for Pearl, Arthur comes to visit often.
Pearl wondered how Arthur got around the principal’s “puppy-love” rule, but she didn’t ask.
Allow me to posit a few theories:
- Pearl’s recent brush with death has made the principal a little lax where rule enforcement is concerned. This is understandable.
- As everyone knows, rules like this only apply to certain people. The faculty’s enforcement of rules about romance are absolutely enforced selectively. The rules are unlikely to be enforced as strictly when the student in question is popular, well liked, active in student organizations, and known for being particularly devout. Pearl, even before her accident, was all of the above. It’s plain to see that Arthur and Pearl had a bit of a romance going on even before Pearl’s horrid working conditions caught up with her, so even before this incident it is likely that this rule was already being selectively enforced where they were concerned. The principal was already turning a blind eye to Pearl and Arthur, and he sees every reason at this point to close his eyes completely.
- A little of both.
Or maybe the author thinks we’re supposed to think the hand of God is in it or something. I don’t know and I kind of don’t care.
Rosalind, Pearl’s dorm room mate, gives Pearl a book. We are told that Pearl is reading a lot, as there’s nothing else to do in the hospital.
Pearl’s friends kept her aware of what happened on the campus. The boys told of pillow fights they had had when the dean wasn’t around… “One night, we were in the middle of a good pillow fight. Several of the fellows were in our room and we were really pelting each other. Victor had just thrown a fast one, when the door opened. Vic’s pillow hit the dean on the side of the head. He [the dean] was a good sport, though, and gave Victor a hard one in return. We all stood with our mouths open.”
“Yeah,” Victor said, “I caught the pillow and just stood there. Then the dean started to laugh. He told us he’d had quite a bit of practice at that game too. Then he said it was study period, and we’d better get back to work.”
“That’s what I like about him,” Arthur said. “He never comes in and bawls us out. But we always want to do what he says.”
“He’s a good dean,” Charles agreed.
I can’t believe I’m going to say this: I agree too. That does sound like a good dean. It was well known, in academy, that a good dean knew the difference between “something people are doing that is horribly wrong and I must stop it at once,” and “something people are doing that is technically against the rules and I have to stop it, but this thing is really quite harmless.”
It sounds like this particular dean might have that, so, yay for him.
Victor turned toward the girls. “All the exciting things seem to happen in the boys’ dorm. Don’t you girls ever do anything interesting?”
I feel like this is something the author asked Pearl as Pearl was telling her this story, and Pearl was like, “ummm” and had to really think of something.
“We have plenty of excitement all right,” Florence said. “The first time we had canned juice for Sabbath breakfast we saved the cans, and that night about a half an hour after lights-out, a group of us tiptoed down the end of the passageway, and at a signal, all of us rolled our cans down the hall. They really made a terrible clatter.”
I would like to take a moment to remind everybody that these are college students. This sounds more like something you’d hear about Academy students doing. (Except that Academy students don’t do this. We do strip poker instead.)
Also, I really don’t understand this prank. They rolled their cans down the hall and it was loud? Exciting? Fun?
For the record, nobody in our Academy dorm ever rolled cans down the hallway. I’m sure pillow fights were a thing, but I was never invited. I was also never invited to those strip poker parties either, but we’re getting off the subject.
One Sabbath afternoon before the regular visiting hour, Pearl was surprised to hear a knock at her door, and more surprised when Arthur entered…..After a few moments of small talk, Arthur took a deep breath and blurted out, “Pearl, I love you!”
He’s….never said this before? They’ve never talked about it? This is a big deal? Okay whatever.
Arthur explained that he had prayed for a long time for God to direct him to the right girl, the one he should marry.
All Adventist children are taught to pray like this from the minute they express interest in the opposite sex. I know people who prayed this prayer every day. I never particularly prayed like this…instead I prayed things like “please let this horrid lecture on boys be over so I can go ride horses, Amen.”
“Thank you, Arthur, for your interest in me. But you know you can’t marry me. You’re going to be a worker for God, and you certainly can’t have an invalid wife on your hands.”
I get that this was probably the way they thought back then….but it doesn’t make it right. Who says one can’t work for God with “an invalid wife?”
“Pearl,” Arthur said earnestly, “I know you’ll get better. I’m sure you won’t be an invalid for life. You’ll walk again.”
I wonder if the author is aware of how this makes Arthur sound. He doesn’t say something like, “I don’t care if you’re disabled or not. I want you.” Instead he says, “I’m sure you’re not going to be chronically disabled your whole life.”
Ok, but, what if she is? Are you going to divorce her and say, “Sorry Pearl, I only married you because I thought God was going to heal you?”
“Bur Arthur, the doctor told me just this week that I’d never walk again without crutches. Can you imagine me walking down the aisle to the marriage altar on crutches?” Pearl said, giggling.
Your doctor also said your heart stopped beating despite the fact that you were still breathing. At this point, I would be extremely suspicious of anything those idiot “doctors” have to say to you.
“It makes no difference to me how you walk down the aisle. I want you to be my wife.”
YES. Thank you. THIS is the appropriate response. If the author had edited out Arthur’s earlier statement, this would come across as sweet. Instead it just comes across as damage control.
“I’ve been praying about this for a long time,” he said seriously. “I’m convinced that we are meant for each other.”
A pastor once preached, in a sermon, that sometimes God tells the man who he is supposed to marry before he tells the woman. He said that sometimes the man has to do a lot of convincing before the woman prays about it and realizes that yes, she and this guy who’s been stalking her are meant for each other. Praise the lord.
“Please, not so fast.” Pearl put up her hand. “I’ll have to do some praying about this too. Let’s not rush things. Besides, I have college to finish first.” She felt almost suffocated from the pressure of his words. She wanted some time to think, to pray about the situation.
You know what? Good for her. One of my readers noticed that Pearl has been pressured a lot in this book: her mother pressured her to leave a good job at Maracaibo, the Adventists who converted her pressured her to give up dancing, her pastor pressured her to leave another good job and go to College where she worked a shitty job in dangerous conditions, and now Arthur is pressuring her to get married. It’s about damn time Pearl dug in her heals and, while she hasn’t said no, she at least has said, “slow down.”
Good for you, honey.
“Well, I have one more year myself, but it certainly won’t hurt to plan.”
Dick. What about her college? Pearl is probably way behind in her schoolwork from being sick for so long. Arthur here is also already assuming that Pearl has said yes. And she hasn’t. She hasn’t said “no,” but she has said, “slow down.” And Arthur takes this to mean, “ok, we’ll get married in a year.”
“I can’t make my mind up all in a minute. Besides, mother would never approve.”
Just then there’s a knock at the door, and Pearl is relieved to see Arthur go.
All through the afternoon Pearl only half listened to the students’ chatter, her thoughts being on Arthur’s declaration of love. Her heart wished it could be possible, but her mind knew it wasn’t…. she thought of her mother. “Poor dear, she’s so afraid she’ll lose me to some young man. I know she’s lonely and needs me. But all these months I’ve been in the hospital she’s gotten along all right.”
Are we seriously hearing that the only reason Pearl is still single is because her mother is afraid she’ll lose her? Is this supposed to make us like Pearl’s mother?
Pearl argued back and forth in her mind, trying to deal with this new mountain Arthur had brought.
See? No need to pray for mountains. They will come naturally. Especially if you’re going to just randomly decide “this thing is a mountain.”
Will Pearl choose Arthur, or school? We’ll find out in the next 3 chapters. After this post, there are only 3 more chapters and an epilogue to go. The interesting part is over, but there’s still plenty of awful to get through.