The Road to Joy - Chapter I

Fiction By Arthur // 12/9/2015

The evening was the fourteenth of December. The year was 1873. It was bitterly cold outside, yet I sat comfortable inside, warmed by a fire, and content and happy. But I could have been outside, chilled by the frosty fingers of the wind, and been just as content and happy. How could anyone not be who was in my place? God had blessed me, immensely. I was not yet twenty-three years of age and I had more than I could ask for. I was now a partner in ownership of a very successful shipping company, but that was just a trifle of a blessing compared to the other gifts God had flooded me with my whole life.

Ever since my days as a little child, my parents had raised me to fear and love the Lord. They taught me His character, but most of all, they had taught me the gospel. Ah! It was a pleasure just thinking about it. God could not have given me better parents.

My father had immigrated to America from Scotland and had established himself as a trusted silver and gold smith among the populous of Boston's higher class.

I remember one day as a youngster helping him in the workshop. He was in the back, and I was handling customers. One very wealthy man overpaid, and I didn't realize it until he had left. I brought the extra bit to my father, advising him to buy Mother flowers. My father looked down at me from his high stool, and said with a loving concern, "M' lad, good hard work honors the Lord, but remember, honesty honors Him more, for it reveals who you work for and the reason you live."

My mother's family, on the other hand, had immigrated from England many generations back, yet she always seemed to have come straight from there herself. She held herself in an honorable way, as a lady of some standing would do, yet she had a humility about herself.

When my father went off to fight in the Army of the Potomac near the end of the War between the States, my family had to live off of a much smaller sum of money than we were used to. As a child, I would complain, but my mother would take me, look into my eyes, and say to me in her calm, gentle voice, "Now Charles, when you complain, you are saying you are not worthy to be given this low place in life with this hardship. When that thought enters your mind, think on the life of Christ, for he willingly took the lowliest of places, and died upon the cross to take the wrath of God you deserve. The cross should then make you happy to bear anything the Lord sends your way."

I loved my parents for guiding my heart and firmly planting my faith in Christ.

And my siblings were all such a blessing to me. I had six siblings: two sisters and four brothers. I loved them all, but I was closest to my sister Matilda. She and I would stay up after everyone had gone to bed and discuss books we had read. Her favorite book was The Lamplighter and mine was Comfortable Troubles, but we liked most to talk over theological books. Jonathan Edwards was our favorite. I remember a night when we were both younger we stayed up so late the clock struck two before we headed for our beds. Matilda and I were so very much alike.

I must admit, though, the main reason for my joy was that a certain Miss Sarah Burke had said yes to my proposal the evening before, and I was to be married within two months.

I couldn't sleep, and I wasn't tired. I was overflowing with joy, though Miss Burke had left that morning on a train with her family to visit cousins in Richmond. I didn't mind. It was only for two weeks. I could be patient, especially for her. She was such a sweet young woman, godly, gentle, and humble. She was gracious with everyone, and was always looking for ways to serve. And she was beautiful; her hazel eyes shone kindness and there was always joy in her face.

Most of all, she pointed me to Christ. She had such a love for the lost and the weak and the lowly of this world. She reflected the love of Christ.

My fondest memory of her is when we were walking with my sister in a poorer district of the city and a little girl, no older than nine, came up to us and offered us roses. I bought two, one for Sarah and one for Matilda. Then Sarah knelt down next to the little girl, and you could see the tender love radiate from her face. She truly loved and cared for this little girl she had only just met. She invited the little girl, who introduced herself as Jessica, to eat lunch with us, for we were just going to stop by a cafe on the corner. The whole time she talked to the little girl, Jessica, and told her about Jesus. She was so loving. At the end, Sarah invited her to our church, and little Jessica has been coming to our evening service ever since.

I got up from the fire. "I ought to get some sleep," was my thought, but I still wasn't tired. "A walk might solve that. The cold will make me more eager to get into a warm bed."

I headed downstairs to the doorway, donned my hat and coat and called out to my butler, "Thomas, I'm heading out for a short walk. I'm going to walk some weariness into myself. I'll be back soon."

Thomas walked in from the other room and responded, "Yes sir, but do be careful to not catch a chill! It's dreadfully cold out there."

I smiled and opened the door. The cold wind blew in from outside as if it were waging war against the warmth. I quickly went though and closed the door. My hat almost blew off. I straightened it and looked around. Not a soul to be seen in this bitter cold.

I began to walk, not really paying heed to where I was walking. The frosty wind, with its long icy fingers, began to reach into my coat, trying to choke the warmth hiding inside. I pulled my coat tighter together, flipping up the collar to keep my face warm. I continued walking for a time until I found myself back at my front door. I was ready for the warmth of my bed.

I went inside quickly. The warm air rushed to welcome me. I hung up my hat and was taking off my coat. "Charles." I looked up and was surprised to see my brother John standing in front of me.

"Jonny, what are you doing here?" I said with surprise and a bit of confusion in my voice.

"Charles," John looked worried as he talked, "I have grave news."

Next Chapter

Comments

Yay!

I think the title is perfect. :) I'm glad you went with it.

To every one who reads this chapter: na nee na nee na na, I know something you don't know! Okay fine. I'll stop gloating.

This chapter is lovely. I love Charles' parents. I wish I could meet them in real life. I know they'd be lovely people.

Damaris Ann | Wed, 12/09/2015

I am an overcomer through Christ alone, for the glory of God alone.

Haha, very funny Damaris. :P

Haha, very funny Damaris. :P

By the way, brownie points for Damaris for being my lab rat!

Arthur | Wed, 12/09/2015

"My greatest wish for my writing is that it would point you to the Savior."

How many brownie points do I

How many brownie points do I get? :P

Damaris Ann | Wed, 12/09/2015

I am an overcomer through Christ alone, for the glory of God alone.

Five brownie points so far.

Five brownie points so far. Several more pending. :P

Arthur | Wed, 12/09/2015

"My greatest wish for my writing is that it would point you to the Savior."

Way cool!

This was really great to read! I love the relationship between Charles and Matilda; it reminds me of my relationship with my brother. We sit on the stairs till the wee hours of the morning talking about everything ;) It honestly sounds like he had the perfect life! Until...that last line...I cannot wait to read the next chapter!
I would be careful about how much you're telling the reader as opposed to showing the reader. I liked how you described Charles' parents, but I think it could use more illustration, like reminiscing a lesson learned from his parents as he reads the Bible or something so you have a smoother transition into describing them and their impact on his life. Just a speculation that I think would make it that much more interesting...not that it needs much ;) Great job!

Brighid | Wed, 12/09/2015

When I worship, I would rather my heart be without words than my words be without heart.

Thanks for the Feedback

Brighid, thank you for sharing your thoughts.

About telling vs. showing, this story is written like a testimony of sorts. Imagine Hedge of Thorns if you've read that book. Except I wouldn't place this story on the same level as Hedge of Thorns. But that's what I'm going for, kind of.

Now, your advice to add memories of specific situations with his parents is something that would be very beneficial, and in fact would further it later on... But I'm getting ahead of myself. You have to wait for that... :)

Anyways, I will work on it in the next couple of days and add something.

Arthur | Thu, 12/10/2015

"My greatest wish for my writing is that it would point you to the Savior."

May I just say that I love

May I just say that I love Charles' mom?

"Now Charles, when you complain, you are saying you are not worthy to be given this low place in life with this hardship. When that thought enters your mind, think on the life of Christ, for he willingly took the lowliest of places, and died upon the cross to take the wrath of God you deserve. The cross should then make you happy to bear anything the Lord sends your way."

I. Love. That.

While reading this, I kept thinking, "Everything's so perfect . . . too perfect . . . " and I feel like that alone was building up suspense to John's, "I have grave news."

Looking forward to the next chapter!

Hannah D. | Fri, 12/11/2015

"Reason itself is a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all." - G. K. Chesterton

That's my favorite part, too,

That's my favorite part, too, Hannah. :) it's perfect.

Damaris Ann | Fri, 12/11/2015

I am an overcomer through Christ alone, for the glory of God alone.

Surprised you posted fiction.

I agree with Brighid that I was thinking there needed to be more illustrations - more showing than telling.
But this had a nice old-fashioned feel to it. Shipping company, Scotland, etc.
You've actually really improved in writing stories! Things like descriptions: My hat almost blew off. I straightened it and looked around. Not a soul to be seen in this bitter cold.
Grammar? I remember doing this alot with your other story. :)
"The frosty wind began to reach into my coat with long icy fingers, trying to choke the warmth hiding inside." - I think this is a misplaced modifier. Does your coat have long icy fingers - or is it the frosty wind?

And I also agree that I loved the ending - everything else seemed too good to be true.

PS I think what's going to happen is that his fiancee is in trouble or something.

Lucy Anne | Sat, 12/12/2015

"It is not the length of life, but the depth of life." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Perfect

I love the changes you made. They are perfect. I didn't really think that this chapter needed any improvement but now I am glad that you edited it. The added bits are absolutely perfect.

Damaris Ann | Tue, 12/15/2015

I am an overcomer through Christ alone, for the glory of God alone.

Brighid, I fixed the section

Brighid, I fixed the section on Charles' parents. Tell me what you think!

Hannah, thank you. You're comment is encouraging. I do hope to not disappoint you with the second chapter!

Megan, thank you also for your comment.

I must respectfully disagree with you and Brighid on showing vs telling. First off, I may not even fully understand your concern/advice, but I do believe the current form to be the best for this story. I do still have seven or so people I want to read the chapter and tell me what they think, but at this point my opinion is to keep it as it is.

As always, thank you for correcting my grammar. I may not seem good at grammar, but I do care about it, so I appreciate the chance to correct it. Is this better, or still confusing ( I think this was my original intent for the sentence anyways.): "The frosty wind began to reach into my coat with its long icy fingers, trying to choke the warmth hiding inside."

I was actually a bit surprised that you were surprised that I wrote fiction. Then I thought about it and can understand your surprise. The thing is, that is somewhat how I think. I think of dilemmas or challenges, and will then begin to form a story around them. I look back at my previous attempts...and I blush. I think what has helped me improve is just maturing and growing up. Also my view of fiction has helped me. I had basically the same view when I was a lot younger, but maturing has helped me put it into practice. It's the view that writing a story is only worth while if it leaves the reader with a deeper knowledge or respect of God; if it challenges the reader to glorify Christ with their actions then it's worth my time to write. And I write fiction, and not just essays, because a story can impact people in ways that no essay can.

And, Megan, at your guess for chapter two...*dramatic pause*...*evil laugh*...you'll just have to wait and see!

Arthur | Tue, 12/15/2015

"My greatest wish for my writing is that it would point you to the Savior."

This is beautiful

"Writing a story is only worth while if it leaves the reader with a deeper knowledge or respect of God; if it challenges the reader to glorify Christ with their actions then it's worth my time to write. And I write fiction, and not just essays, because a story can impact people in ways that no essay can."

This needs to be framed and out up on the wall. I'm serious.

Damaris Ann | Tue, 12/15/2015

I am an overcomer through Christ alone, for the glory of God alone.

Well-set stage

Nice job, Arthur. The way you've set the stage for the story is tremendous. I'm eager to read more (which I DID happen to see you posted the next chapter haha)!
I like the descriptions you've given, leaves room for the imagination of the reader(s). I think the pace of the story is quite good as well. I'm interested to see how the pace will play out as the story continues.

Keep it up, sir!

Cody Clark | Tue, 12/15/2015

Romans 10:4

WHAT??!!! Arthur posted

WHAT??!!! Arthur posted fiction??

So glad to see you writing, Arthur! I can only echo what the others have said. I second what Megan has to say on showing vs telling.
I love the relationship between him and his sister :)
Overall, so glad you posted and I'm on for chapter 2!

Maddi | Fri, 12/18/2015

Goodbye? Oh no, please. Can’t we just go back to page one and start all over again?” – Winnie The Pooh

:)

The frosty wind began to reach into my coat with its long icy fingers, trying to choke the warmth hiding inside." - could be changed to "With its long icy fingers, the frosty wind...." That way, it is correct and clear that you mean the wind has these fingers, and not the coat.

I was surprised that you posted fiction, because well, first I am always surprised whenever you post because you haven't been doing it often. (Hey, Maddi was surprised too!) Also, I don't know you that well, so because you have posted more essays than fiction in the past, I assumed you were more of an essay writer. But that's great to see you writing fiction! I agree with you about the power in stories that sometimes cannot be accomplished in essays.

Also, you have a certain style for this story - it really is your decision how you want to write it.

Lucy Anne | Sat, 12/19/2015

"It is not the length of life, but the depth of life." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Megan: Alright, I think I've

Megan: Alright, I think I've fixed the sentence satisfactorally now. :P Thanks for keeping clear in meaning and grammar!

Megan and Maddi: in response to surprise:
Well...I guess I don't really have a response. Just get used to surprises! :D

Arthur | Thu, 12/24/2015

"My greatest wish for my writing is that it would point you to the Savior."