BERTIE FRY’S LONG TONGUE


I began writing Children’s stories about sixteen years ago.  Most all of the stories I wrote were derived from the illustrations my dad used in his sermons.  They could be called modern day parables, for they are earthly stories with Heavenly meanings.  I wrote them for my grandchildren, in hopes of bringing God’s truths into the realm of a childs understanding. Enjoy! -anita

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Tassy lived with Ma and Pa in a small community called Hillsboro, in the Tennessee Mountains.  She was an educated girl, because she’d gone off to college right after high school.  On the other hand, Ma and Pa didn’t have much book learnin’ at all!  They were just good ‘ol down home country folks.

Tassy had tried to live in the city, but just didn’t much cotton to those city folks…they weren’t ‘real’ enough for her, so she’d moved back home.

The most favorite times for her, was when her and Ma would sit out on the porch and snap beans, or shuck corn.  That’s when Ma would pour out her pearls of wisdom regarding certain situations that come up in everyday life.  Even though Ma didn’t have much book learnin’, she was still real wise and Tassy had learned a lot from her.  They’d talk for hours on end about how you should treat folks with respect and kindness, and about followin’ the Golden Rule of doin’ to others the way you’d want them to do back to you.

One day, a prim and proper lady from the state of Georgia moved into the same community.  She hadn’t really wanted to move to such a small “Hick Town”, but her husband had retired, and insisted on it.

It didn’t take long for the townsfolk of Hillsboro to figure out that Mrs. Fry was a busy-body, or as some of the ladies called her…an ‘Old Bitty, with a long tongue.’  Her name was Bertie Fry, and she could roast, boil, fry, or grill up anybody’s character in a New York minute.  She never minced words, and she loved to gossip!

Now, Ma wasn’t given over to talkin’ bad about folks, but Tassy did hear her tellin’ Pa that Bertie Fry had such a long, gossipin’ tongue, that she could stand in the front room and lick the skillet plumb clean in the kitchen!

After stewin’ on this bit of eavesdroppin’ for a couple of days, Tassy was itchin’ to find out just what Ma had meant by that remark!  So, that afternoon, her and Ma were out on the porch snappin’ beans.  They each had a dish pan in their lap, and a tall glass of lemonade sittin’ on the table.  Tassy took a sip, cleared her throat and said, “Ma…I heard what you were saying to Pa about Bertie Fry…you know…about her long tongue and all.  Just what did you mean by that?”  Ma looked a little embarrassed, and answered, “Well now Tassy!  It looks as though you done caught me red handed!  You know I don’t much cotton to talkin’ about folks…but that Bertie Fry got a mean old devil in her!”  “What you mean Ma?”  Tassy questioned.  “Well…you know how we was sayin’ the other day about folks tryin’ hard all their life to be good and honest? …You know…so other folks would know they got good character and all?Ma questioned.  Tassy shook her head.  She remembered that conversation well!  Then Ma went on, “You see…folks like Bertie Fry can kill a body dead with their lyin’ words and back bittin’ tongues!  You don’t always need a gun or knife to kill somebody.  Why!  You could kill ’em plumb dead with the wrong words you say!  It takes a whole lifetime to build up good character, but just a few seconds from a tongue like Bertie’s, and that character will be dead!  Then nobody will remember anything good about that person.”  Ma kept talking.  “And you remember another thing girl, gossipin’ don’t always have to be lies.  Sometimes you can be tellin’ the God honest truth, and it will still hurt the person you’re talkin’ about!  That’s why it’s best to hold your tongue!

Ma went on to quote some verses from the Bible.  Now, let’s just say right here and now that Ma knew her Bible better than most anyone in Hillsboro; so when she went to quotin’ from the Good Book, folks sat up and listened real good!  She said, “Folks that have a back- bittin’, gossipin’ tongue and set out to do evil to their neighbors won’t live in the Holy Hills of Heaven…it says so in Psalms 15.  It says in Romans, chapter 1 that folks that do such things are worthy of death.  Now…I don’t know what you think about this Tassy, but ya can’t get much plainer than that!”  Ma waited a minute.  She saw Tassy tryin’ to let the words all sink in.  Then she went on, “So ya see Tassy, the folks in Hillsboro ain’t the only ones that don’t cotton to gossip stuff…why!  The Lord God Almighty His self can’t stomach it!”

Tassy sat there for a minute with a frown on her face.  Then said, “What do we do then?  Do we talk to her and tell her she’s wrong?   Or do we just look the other way and avoid her?”   Ma said, “Well, the Good Book says that you should stay away from those kind of folks, cuz they’re just trouble makers and will suck you into their mess.”  She went on, “It’s just like that spot down at the river.  You know…where the whirlpool is.  We’ve always warned you to stay away from that spot cuz if you get too close, it will drag you under and nobody will be able to help you then!  These folks like Bertie Fry are just like that spot in the river.  Sooner or later, if you hang around ’em long enough, you’ll get sucked into their nonsense, and be doin’ the same thing!”  Ma was in preachin’ mode now…nothing was gonna stop her ’till she got to the end of her sermon.  She said, “Remember what your granny used to say?  God rest her soul!  She said, ‘Birds of a feather, flock together.’  And she was right!  You can’t stick around somebody and not end up just like ’em!  The Good Book says, ‘Bad company corrupts good manners.’ “

Ma was quiet for a minute, and then she started thinkin’ out loud.  She said, “Somebody real strong in the Lord needs to sit Bertie down a spell and talk at her a thing or two…that’s for sure!”  Tassy said, “Well you could tell her Ma!  You know more about the Bible than anyone around here.  Someone needs to show her the error of her ways!”  Ma placed her finger on her chin and said, “You know child, I think you’re right!  When we get done snappin’ these beans, I’ll march myself right over there to Bertie Fry’s and see if I can introduce her to Jesus!  Meetin’ Him will for sure cut that tongue of hers down to the right size!”

By:  Anita Mondragon September 2000  

 

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