A Sunday Valentine
OLLY was sitting in the square old-fashioned pew at
church. As she was a very little person, her view was
somewhat limited. It was chiefly confined to the row of
heads that appeared above the back of the seat in front
of her. To-day there was only one head there. It was a
shiny bald head belonging to a very old gentleman.
Molly wondered as she looked at him whether he was
thankful enough that he did not have long curly hair to
be pulled by his aunt Mary when she combed it. But
perhaps he did not have an aunt Mary. Her aunt Mary was
sitting in the pew by her side, tall, straight, and
handsome. If she had not been there, Molly would have
ventured to climb upon the seat, and enlarge her view
by looking over the back of the pew; for directly
behind her there often sat a very beautiful young lady
who looked just like a fairy princess. Molly was sure
of this; because she had often seen
pictures of fairy princesses, and they always had curly
yellow hair and blue eyes, like Miss Sylvia.
It was Valentine's Day; and Molly wondered whether
there would be an especial service, as there had been
at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
That morning she had heard her sister Flora say, "It's
Valentine's Day! I think it's a mean shame to have it
come on Sunday."
"What is Valentine's Day?" Molly had asked her
"It is a day when people tell their friends how much
they love them," he had said, stooping to kiss her
Molly was thinking about this now, while she sat very
still on the faded damask pew-cushion, with her legs
dangling down in a most uncomfortable fashion. She
thought: "How nice it would be to write a valentine
all my own self to Miss Sylvia, and tell her how much I
love her; and I can give it to her when church is
Molly had a pencil in her pocket, and she knew that her
mamma kept some paper under the pew-cushion, so that
her little daughter could amuse herself during the
sermon. Molly looked up furtively at her aunt Mary, and
saw that her face was fixed with apparent absorption
upon the minister; so she
ventured to put one of her hands under the pew-cushion
to try and find the paper. First she found a palm-leaf
fan, all torn on the edge, and looking so shabby that
she felt quite ashamed of it and hastily put it back;
and then she moved softly along to the other end of the
pew toward her father, that she might see if the paper
was under the cushion where she had been sitting. She
found it; but she could not help making it rustle as
she pulled it out. Her aunt Mary shook her head at her
with decision. Her father looked at her aunt
appealingly. "Let her write; it is a harmless
amusement," he seemed to say.
Molly glanced doubtfully from one to the other, and
then cautiously slid down and seated herself on the
cricket. She looked up with shy apprehension at her
aunt, but gained confidence when she saw that she was
merely looking at her father with an expression with
which the little girl was familiar. It was half
resigned, half protesting. It said as plainly as words:—
"If that were my child, I would make her behave
It was a whole year since Molly had had any valentines,
and she could only dimly remember what they were like.
Should she write on her paper, "I
love you, Miss Sylvia.—Molly Benson"? No, that was
not enough; and besides it was Sunday, and it would be
better to make it a Sunday valentine. She could find
something about loving one another, in the Bible, and
she could copy it. She took down her little Testament,
which happened to open toward the end of the volume,
and turned the leaves diligently. Her aunt Mary looked
at her, and was beginning to shake her head again; but
Molly held her book up triumphantly. Even her aunt Mary
could not object to her reading in church if the book
that she read was the Bible.
Molly looked through the pages slowly, for she found it
hard to read the long words. At first she could not
find anything at all appropriate, and she began to be
afraid that they did not have any Valentine's Day when
the New Testament was first written. She felt
discouraged, and was just going to shut her book, when
she came to a whole chapter that seemed to be all about
loving one another. Molly thought it must be the
"Valentine Chapter." She was glad now that her aunt Mary
had persevered and taught her to read, in spite of the
fact that her father and mother had thought her too
young to learn.
Molly did not know how to write; but she could
print very neatly, although it took her a long time to
do it. She printed: "Beloved, let us love one
another." Then she found something so much to the point
that it seemed as if it must have been written on
purpose: "I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote
a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from
the beginning, that we love one another."
Molly thought that the words "commandment" and
"beginning" were too long to write, so she left out
that part of the sentence, and printed the rest of it
as carefully as she could: "I beseech thee, lady,
that we love one another." Then some more words on the
page caught her eye: "I would not write with paper
Molly wondered why the person who had written this
letter would not write with ink. Could it be for the
same reason that she was not allowed to write with ink?
No, that was not possible; because, if his letter
was in the Bible, he must have been a grown-up person,
and there would have been no danger of his upsetting
the inkstand. She could think of no way of explaining
this little sentence; but it gave her a very friendly
feeling for the man who had been writing his letter
without ink such a long, long time ago.
Molly was so absorbed in her occupation that she forgot
to get up with the others when they stood up to sing.
She rose hastily in the middle of the second verse. She
did not know what they were singing; but she liked the
music, and so she joined in and sang the tune softly,
as well as she could, to words of her own.
"I am very happy," Molly sang; "I love everybody. I
love papa, and mamma, and Ruth, and Turner, and Flora,
and Aunt Mary, and dear Miss Sylvia; and I love the
gentleman who couldn't write with ink and paper. I
love everybody, everybody, everybody! I love God too.
He has made me very happy. I hope he won't mind because
I didn't find the place in the hymn-book, and so have
to sing my own words, which aren't as pretty as the
music. This is my valentine-hymn, and this my special
When church was over, and the people began to leave
their pews with the rustle and buzz that always
follows, Molly clasped her paper tightly in her hand,
and shyly opened the door of Miss Sylvia's pew. Molly
wished that all doors were as small as pew-doors, they
would be so much easier to open. A pew-door seemed made
on purpose for little children.
Alas! there was no pretty golden-haired fairy
princess there; the pew was empty. Molly felt bitterly
disappointed; but then she remembered that she could
copy her valentine on pink paper, and carry it that
afternoon her own self to Miss Sylvia. Her papa said
that she might; and Flora gave her some pink paper.
Molly felt some misgivings as she walked up the
driveway that led to the house where Miss Sylvia lived
with her uncle.
"Suppose she shouldn't like the valentine," she
thought. "Suppose she should say, as Aunt Mary did,
'You silly child' "—
Just then a big black dog came out from behind a tree,
and jumped up on Molly, putting two of his big paws on
her shoulders. Poor Molly was now thoroughly
frightened. She ran up to the door very fast, and
pulled the bell; and then she turned to look at the
dog, who raised his eyes to hers reproachfully.
"Poor thing, you didn't mean to hurt me, did you?"
she said doubtfully. "That was your way of hugging. I
suppose you wanted to tell me that you loved me. It is
your kind of valentine. Oh, please, don't do it again!
Please don't; for you are so big, and I'm so very
At that moment the maid came to the door.
"Down, Ponto! Down!" she said. "Don't touch the
little lady. Whom do you want to see, miss?"
"Miss Sylvia. Please tell her it's Molly Benson."
The maid looked doubtful.
"I don't think Miss Sylvia can see any one today."
Molly's heart sank. She felt like crying. Presently,
however, Miss Sylvia, who had heard the voices below,
came to the head of the stairs.
"My dear little Molly," she said, "I am so very glad
to see you."
Molly watched her come down the stairway, and she
thought her more lovely than ever. She made up her mind
that if she ever grew up into a young lady, she would
have a blue gown with ribbon and lace down the front of
it, just like Miss Sylvia's.
"What do you want, dear?" asked Miss Sylvia. Her
face looked sad; and if she had not been a grown-up
person, Molly would have thought that she had been
The little girl did not answer. A sudden fit of shyness
had seized her. She held out her valentine mutely.
"For me?" asked Miss Sylvia.
"Oh, how pretty!" Miss Sylvia said, as she took it.
"Pink is my favorite color."
She seated herself on the lowest step of the staircase,
and motioned to Molly to come and sit beside her.
"What is it?" she asked.
"It is a Sunday valentine, all out of the Bible," said
Molly, who had found her tongue.
Miss Sylvia opened it and read it.
"Beloved, let us love one another. I beseech thee,
lady, that we love one another. I love you.—Molly
Miss Sylvia turned and put her arms around the little
"You dear child, how lovely of you to write this for
me all yourself!" she said.
"It would have been much nicer," said Molly, "only
Flora wouldn't let me have the ink, and so I had to
print it in pencil."
"It couldn't have been nicer," said Miss Sylvia; "I
like it best just as it is. How did you ever think of
anything so sweet?"
"Aunt Mary said you wouldn't care for it at all,"
observed Molly. "She"—
"Mary knows nothing about it," said Miss Sylvia, with
She kissed Molly again and again. "I can't tell you
how much good you have done me," she said. "Something
has happened which has made me very unhappy to-day, and
I was feeling as if nobody cared very much about me;
and just then you came in at the door, like a little
"She liked it ever so much, papa," said Molly, that
evening. "She said she had never had such a lovely
valentine. Do you suppose it was because it was a
Sunday valentine, or because it was on pink paper?"