A Feud

A Feud

Two mountaineer families had been quarreling for many years. Such a quarrel of long standing is called a feud. The name of the father in one family was Stephen but they called him Steve for short, and the other father was called Andy which is short for Andrew.

The farms of Steve and Andy were adjoining, and the boundary line between them was an old stone fence. Many years ago Steve's grandfather had a cow that jumped the stone fence and ate the corn on the other farm. When Andy's grandfather saw this, he shot and killed the cow. And so the quarrel began. In this feud which lasted for many years, one man was shot on Steve's side of the family and two were shot on Andy's side.

This quarrel had been handed down to Steve and Andy. Each swore that some day he would kill the other. One cold winter day when both were hunting rabbits, they met, and Andy thinking of the two that Chad been killed in his family and only one in Steve's family, thought he would even things up, and so he shot Steve.

Steve's oldest son Fred vowed to avenge his father's death. And so the feud continued. Fred at that time was only fifteen years of age but he had made up his mind some day to "get even" with Andy. Several years passed and Fred was drafted into the army, and then called away for service in the World War. He was in the war for sixteen months and although many of his companions were killed, he escaped death.

But while Fred was away to war, something happened to Andy. On Christmas Day Andy and his family went to town to go to church. Andy never went to church, but he had promised his wife to take the family on Christmas Day in the sled since the snow was deep and the weather was cold. Andy sat in the back pew. At least it was warm in the church; this was better than waiting for his family out of doors.

That morning he heard something that he had never heard before. The minister said that Christmas was a day of giving, a day of joy when we give because there is love in our hearts. He said that Christmas was the day on which God gave us Jesus, the best
gift in the whole world. He spoke about Jesus' love, that Jesus loved everyone, even his enemies. The minister showed how Jesus did good to those who hated him, that he blessed those who cursed him, and returned good for evil.

This was something Andy had never heard before. He began to think how wrong the feud was; how big a sin he had committed when he killed Steve. He kept thinking about what he had heard. On his way home he passed the farm that had once belonged to Steve. For the first time he realized how lonely the wife and children must be without Steve. Worst of all, things were not going so well with Steve's family. With Steve gone, and Fred away at war, the farm had been neglected, and the family income was small. In fact there was not enough food in the house.

Andy suddenly felt responsible for the tragic situation in Steve's family It was he who had killed Steve who had a right to live as well as he did. That night Andy prayed for the first time since he was a small boy. He prayed that God would forgive him for his terrible sin. But he did something more. To show that he was truly sorry, he promised God that he would send food every day to Steve's family. But he did not want the family to know that it was he who was sending the food. So he paid a neighbor's boy who promised to keep it secret, to deliver the basket each day.

Finally Fred returned from war. When he saw the poverty in which his mother and brothers and sisters had lived he renewed his pledge to kill the man who had shot his father. When the basket with food arrived as usual, Fred was surprised that no one knew who had sent it. He determined to find the good person who had been so kind to his mother while he was away. He did not know of anyone in the whole community who was so generous. Whoever he was, Fred wanted to find him to show his gratitude.

Fred decided to trail the boy who delivered the baskets. He could scarcely believe his eyes when he saw the boy leave Andy's house with the basket of food. Fred walked straight to Andy's home. At the door they met face to face. They stared at one another. Then a faint smile broke across Andy's face as she said, "You may shoot me, if you want to." What Fred saw before him was Andy, but he was not the same man. The hard lines in his face had softened, his once cold, steely eyes reflected kindness and love. Fred could not shoot a man like that. It was impossible to avenge his father's death. "I came to thank you," said Fred, "for all that you have done for my mother and sisters and brothers while I was away. Now that I am home to support the family, you need not send any more baskets."

"Does this mean," asked Andy, "that the feud is over?"

"Yes," replied Fred, "I now know that there is more good in you than bad."

"I do not know about that," answered Andy, "but do know that whatever good I did to your family, I did because Jesus Christ came into my heart. Jesus changes everything."

"Well, I must say goodbye," said Fred as he shook Andy's hand.

"Goodbye, and we will be dropping in to see you one of these evenings," said Andy as his face beamed with happiness.

Fred walked home across the field. He murmured to himself the words Andy had said, "Jesus changes everything."

"Indeed, he does," he added.

| More