Getting Even


Help me, dear Father, to truly repent, Making things right, and changing my ways (Children’s Songbook, page 99).

June 27th. A lot happened today, and I don’t feel much like thinking about it, let alone writing about it. But President Heber J. Grant says keeping a journal of our daily doings is important, so I better get it done.

It all started this morning when my sister, Charity, was holed up in the privy with a catalog and I had a discomfort worse than I can ever remember. So I cornered a mouse in the root cellar, put it into a fruit jar, and dropped it through a hole in the privy wall.

Charity came screaming out of there madder than bees in a poked hive! She chased me from one end of the farm to the other, but I ran so fast that she couldn’t get close enough to me to do anything more than yell. So she commenced to throw rocks. She missed me—but not the windshield of Sister Donohue’s Model T Ford! Sister Donohue was at our house, working on a quilt with Mama.

When she saw what she’d done, Charity looked like she had just witnessed the end of the world. Then she made a face at me like something I had seen in a bad dream once, and started to cry. Sister Donohue didn’t get mad at her. She just stood there shaking her head.

I hurried off to the privy, figuring that Charity was going to be too concerned with paying for the windshield to think about getting even with me. But was I wrong! The first thing I saw when I got out of the privy and went to my room was Charity—with the little box of marbles I’ve been collecting since I was six years old.

She was standing just outside my open window, holding up the box so that I was sure to see it. I ran outside, but she was gone. Then I saw her by our pet pig Thaddius’ pen. He was wallowing in the mud, which was nice and oozy from last night’s rain.

Charity smiled at me and threw my collection into the mud. By the time I got to the pen, Thaddius had stomped and rolled over the marbles good, and I could only find eight of my twenty-two. The pretty one I found under the schoolhouse steps was gone, and so was the big agate I’d won from Lenny. And every kid in school wanted that one!

I said some hurtful things to Charity and spent the next little while in my room, thinking of ways I could get even with her. And when she walked by my room, she gave me a look that said if I did any of them, I’d soon wish I’d never been born!

After lunch, Mama said that she needed Charity and me to go to the city with her. She needed me to help load the car with groceries and to crank it up. And she needed Charity to choose some material for a dress she was going to make her for a family reunion.

The drive to Salt Lake City takes about an hour. It was real quiet the whole way except for when Mama talked about getting along with one another, and about how the scarecrow in Brother McKillop’s field looked so much like him. I didn’t look at it—I’d have had to look out the window on Charity’s side, and I wasn’t about to look at her any more than she wanted to look at me.

We’d finished shopping and started for home when the car broke down. Some kind men helped us push it up the street to an automobile shop, and the man there said that he’d have it running again in a couple hours. Mama wanted to wait on the temple grounds until it was ready, so that’s what we did.

Mama and Papa were married in the Salt Lake Temple, and she said that outside of heaven or home, it was the best place to be. It is pretty there. It looks like a place where God would like to visit. Mama says that He has visited all His holy temples. She told Charity and me that when she was doing Great-Grandma Lavina’s temple work for her, Great-Grandma appeared to her and put her hand on Mama’s shoulder.

Anyway, Mama told Charity and me that we could go wherever we wanted to go on Temple Square, but to not leave it. She’d find us when she was ready to return to the shop.

Neither one of us wanted to do anything together, so Charity went one way and I went another. I ended up in the museum on the southeast corner of the temple grounds. It had a lot of neat stuff on both floors—Indian artifacts, a strand of the Prophet Joseph’s hair, his bed, little stands with glass covers that had interesting things inside. There was even a big old piano that had been buried along the trail by a family of Saints while they were crossing the plains. That was to keep it safe until they could return for it.

I would’ve enjoyed the museum more if Charity and I hadn’t been so angry at each other. It kind of ruined the feelings that kept trying to grow in me.

Finally I went and sat on a window seat in a little room called the President’s Room. People could sit in it and write postcards and things like that. I wasn’t feeling too good. I thought at first I was just tired or something. But it wasn’t that. I was feeling more and more guilty about being mad at my sister. This was such a sacred place that I couldn’t help feeling bad about feeling bad about anybody, even Charity.

An old man and lady came in. There weren’t enough places for them to sit, so I got up and walked over to the temple. It was getting pretty hot, so I sat in the shadows of those big walls. I got a real warm, reverent feeling—like I do in church when the sacrament is being passed, or like sometimes when I say my prayers.

The feeling started taking up so much room in me that it began pushing the hard feelings I had toward my sister right out. It started pushing tears out too. Other people were close by, and I didn’t want them to see me crying, so I left.

Just as I was turning the corner of the temple, I ran into Charity. We both just stood there and stared at each other. Then she began to cry. She hugged me and said she was sorry. I said I was sorry too.

It was late in the day when Charity, Mama, and I left Salt Lake City for home. I looked back at the temple. It stood as tall as a fine memory against the gold sky.

Mama didn’t have to fill up the silence with talk on the way home, because Charity and I didn’t leave her any room. We talked about everything, especially the temple. What we had seen. And felt. Especially what we had felt. Mama just listened, nodded, and smiled. A lot. And said again when we passed by Brother McKillop’s field how much his scarecrow looked like him. And she’s right—he does. But I’m not going to tell Brother McKillop!

[illustrations] Illustrated by Jerry Harston