Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

The Humbled Pharisee
by [?]

“WHAT was that?” exclaimed Mrs. Andrews, to the lady who was seated next to her, as a single strain of music vibrated for a few moments on the atmosphere.

“A violin, I suppose,” was answered.

“A violin!” An expression almost of horror came into the countenance of Mrs. Andrews. “It can’t be possible.”

It was possible, however, for the sound came again, prolonged and varied.

“What does it mean?” asked Mrs. Andrews, looking troubled, and moving uneasily in her chair.

“Cotillions, I presume,” was answered, carelessly.

“Not dancing, surely!”

But, even as Mrs. Andrews said this, a man entered, carrying in his hand a violin. There was an instant movement on the part of several younger members of the company; partners were chosen, and ere Mrs. Andrews had time to collect her suddenly bewildered thoughts, the music had struck up, and the dancers were in motion.

“I can’t remain here. It’s an outrage!” said Mrs. Andrews, making a motion to rise.

The lady by whom she was sitting comprehended now more clearly her state of mind, and laying a hand on her arm, gently restrained her.

“Why not remain? What is an outrage, Mrs. Andrews?” she asked.

“Mrs. Burdick knew very well that I was a member of the church.” The lady’s manner was indignant.

“All your friends know that, Mrs. Andrews,” replied the other. A third person might have detected in her tones a lurking sarcasm. But this was not perceived by the individual addressed. “But what is wrong?”

“Wrong! Isn’t that wrong?” And she glanced towards the mazy wreath of human figures already circling on the floor. “I could not have believed it of Mrs. Burdick; she knew that I was a professor of religion.”

“She doesn’t expect you to dance, Mrs. Andrews,” said the lady.

“But she expects me to countenance the sin and folly by my presence.”

“Sin and folly are strong terms, Mrs. Andrews.”

“I know they are, and I use them advisedly. I hold it a sin to dance.”

“I know wise and good people who hold a different opinion.”

“Wise and good!” Mrs. Andrews spoke with strong disgust. “I wouldn’t give much for their wisdom and goodness–not I!”

“The true qualities of men and women are best seen at home. When people go abroad, they generally change their attire–mental as well as bodily. Now, I have seen the home-life of certain ladies, who do not think it sin to dance, and it was full of the heart’s warm sunshine; and I have seen the home-life of certain ladies who hold dancing to be sinful, and I have said to myself, half shudderingly: “What child can breathe that atmosphere for years, and not grow up with a clouded spirit, and a fountain of bitterness in the heart!”

“And so you mean to say,” Mrs. Andrews spoke with some asperity of manner, “that dancing makes people better?–Is, in fact, a means of grace?”

“No. I say no such thing.”

“Then what do you mean to say? I draw the only conclusion I can make.”

“One may grow better or worse from dancing,” said the lady. “All will depend on the spirit in which the recreation is indulged. In itself the act is innocent.”

Mrs. Andrews shook her head.

“In what does its sin consist?”

“It is an idle waste of time.”

“Can you say nothing worse of it?”

“I could, but delicacy keeps me silent.”

“Did you ever dance?”

“Me? What a question! No!”

“I have danced often. And, let me say, that your inference on the score of indelicacy is altogether an assumption.”

“Why everybody admits that.”

“Not by any means.”

“If the descriptions of some of the midnight balls and assemblies that I have heard, of the waltzing, and all that, be true, then nothing could be more indelicate,–nothing more injurious to the young and innocent.”

“All good things become evil in their perversions,” said the lady. “And I will readily agree with you, that dancing is perverted, and its use, as a means of social recreation, most sadly changed into what is injurious. The same may be said of church going.”