The second baby was a girl. They named her Bertha Viola. She was a beautiful child, a bundle of sunshine and the picture of sparkling health.
One night when Bertha was about three years old, she suddenly became desperately sick. She had laughed and jabbered and romped all day as usual. She and Jacob Leander had skipped and tumbled and played all over the yard, through the house, and on the porch steps. Through the open door Villie could hear them singing the dear little songs that they had learned in Sunday school. How beautifully their voices blended in heavenly childish chorus!
And now what could be wrong with little Bertha? One crumpled hand lay under her hot cheek, and her tangled blond curls hung over the pillow edge.
“Dannie,” whispered Villie, “I believe she’s very sick. See how she rolls her eyes up into her head. ….
The doctor came at midnight.
“I know you folks want to know the truth about this case,” he said after he had sat by the child’s bedside for fifteen minutes, “but as yet I’m puzzled. I’ll leave this medicine and come back tomorrow. It acts a little like brain fever, but I wouldn’t say yet.”
“Oh!” Villie’s hand went to her throat, and she tried to control her emotion and stifle the spasm of sudden fear that gathered around her heart.
“You and Dannie go on to bed and get your rest,” Mother said. “Jake and I will stay here and take care of Bertha.” ….
Not joy, not ease, not sunshine but trials and difficulties, heartaches and troubles make great experiences, and great experiences make great lives. To struggle and battle and rise above troubles and discouragements develops strength of character and courage for greater trials farther on. Out of kindness and tenderest love, God ordained it that we could not look ahead, not even for an hour. It’s a moment by moment life to live.
For three weeks little Bertha Viola lay unconscious, hanging between life and death. The doctor charged seventy-five cents for his daily calls. Dannie stayed as close to the house as possible, and Villie hugged Jacob Leander close in her arms and cried over his head.
The day came when Bertha Viola was well once more; so the family went to town on a shopping tour.
-- Dannie of Cedar Cliffs by Christmas Carol Kauffman, 1950 (an excellent and beautiful true story of Dannie Roth, 1865?-1950, and his dear wife Villie, a dear Christian couple and faithful laymen in the early Mennonite church.) We have been reading from this book many nights before praying and putting our children to bed. -post by Phillip