RICH MAN, POOR MAN
when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth
In today's episode we find Mrs Bach answering the front door. Listen:
"That's fine Irma, tell Mrs Beadle to come on into my office. The door is open."
"I heard him. You don't have to translate for me. Pastor, I've had it up to here with your shirking your duties. And I'm here to set you straight."
"Good afternoon Sister Hortense. I'd ask you to sit down, but I see you already have. What is it I can do for you today?"
"It's those Plebes again. What else do you think it would be about? It's been over forty years those Plebes have been a thorn in my side, and it's time you did something about it. Forty years, do you understand me?"
"Yes, I do Sister Beadle. And that's forty years more than I've been pastor of this church. Why, may I ask, didn't the former pastors do anything about your problem?"
"For the same reason you aren't taking care of the problem. They were weak and spineless men, just like my Beauregard. What has happened to chivalry? Where are the John Waynes of this world that can make a gentle woman such as myself feel safe in her own home? But I'm at the end of my rope, and it's high time you do something about the Plebes. It's your parish after all. And they're your responsibility. Do you understand me?"
"Yes, I understand Sister Hortense. I don't see how there's anything I can do about your situation, but I'll talk to the Plebes and see what I can do."
"You'd better do something young man. Remember, I'm on the board, and I have the power to hire and fire you. You just keep that in mind when you talk to the Plebes. You just keep that in mind."
"Yes Sister Hortense, I'll keep that in mind."
"Shore' Rev. Always time for my favorite pastor. Come have a seat and stay a spell. We'll have a nice little chit-chat. What you want to talk about? I don't golf, so can't help you none there."
"No Brother Lanslo, I wasn't going to talk to you about sports. It's just that I find myself in the middle of a difficult situation and...."
"That Beadle woman again. Hard case, poor soul. Feel sorry for her, livin' like she does. But we makes our own bed and we got to sleep on it. Feel sorry for old man Beadle though, being saddled with that Hortense woman the way he is. Might could be a happy man if he were unhitched."
"Yes, it is the Beadle woman as you call her. Then you're already aware of my problem."
"Been aware of it since before you were born Rev. You ain't the first pastor what's been around wanting to undo my ways of living. Nope, not by a long shot."
"Tell me then so I can understand. Is there an underlying problem beyond the apparent? I mean, you do live a rather, shall I say, rustic life in comparison to the Beadles."
"Downright slobbish Rev. Call 'em as they is. No offense taken. And no call for that brother sister stuff here Rev. We're just folks, down 'n earthy."
"Thank you for understanding Lanslo. But to my question, is there something else between you and Mrs Beadle?"
"I got nothin' against the Beadle woman. She lives her own ornery life the way she see fit, and I lives mine. Just a matter of priorities is all. Her's is painting up a good front, where mine is keeping watch over my back door, if you know what I mean."
"Not really I don't Lanslo. But I do understand what you mean by a false front. As to the back door...."
"I don't want to disturb you men in the middle of your discussion, but may I see you a moment Pastor? It won't take long, and it is rather important."
"Go on with the little woman Rev. We'll get back to gabbin' when she's through with you."
"Pastor Leo, I don't know if I should tell you this or not, but for your peace of mind I think you should know. There is more to our situation than meets the eye, but Lanslo will never tell you what it is, and there's no one else that knows. Come with me to the back yard and I'll show you what I mean. I'm sure you wonder why we live like this, I mean, how we live with the barest of necessities. You can't help but wonder."
"Yes, I have wondered of course Sister Hon...."
"No need for the usual amenities Pastor Leo. It makes Lanslo and me uncomfortable if the truth be known."
"All right, Honeysuckle it is then. I have wondered, but I just assumed it was because you make very little money. That would be the obvious reason."
"You can't go by the obvious Pastor. Lanslo and I make a fairly good living between us, both with our crafts and with his handyman jobs. As you may have noticed, we are always busy making something. Haven't you wondered what happens to all the things we make?"
"I never thought about it to tell you the truth Honeysuckle. What do you do with all the craft things the two of you make?"
"We give them away to the poor children, or we sell them at craft shows and we donate the money to charity. That's what Lanslo meant by watching the back door and not caring about what the front looks like. Our purpose is to live the Christian life, and not just give a show of being a Christian. That is the conflict between the Beadle family and ours. It's a matter of doing verses show. But don't tell Lanslo or anyone else what I told you, or ever let on that you know. Lanslo believes that only those things done in secret possess any merit. That's why he'll never tell you what he does. And I'm in agreement with him. It's hard to imagine I know, but I grew up in a family just like the Beadles. I could be, and would be living like them. But Lanslo rescued me from that kind of life, and I'm forever thankful that he did. We're very happy living just the way we do. And I would never, ever like to think that I would ever live like those across the street. But that's why we feel sorry for them, because we do understand where they're coming from. And the young Beadle boy, we're just praying that he will be rescued from the life of wealth as Lanslo and I have been. Do you understand now Pastor Leo?"