The Surprise Party.
As soon as Bessie was strong enough to go out, she was invited to stay all night with a friend. She supposed she was to be the only guest, but found that a surprise had been planned for her. A goodly number of her friends and schoolmates were present.

The young folks spent a few hours very pleasantly in playing games, and Bessie enjoyed that part of the evening very much. But late in the evening some one proposed dancing, and the boys began to choose their partners. A very strange feeling came over Bessie when some one asked her to dance. She shook her head and said, "No; I do not know how to dance." Several urged her to try, but she said, "No; I would rather not."

She was the only one that did not dance. As she sat watching the others, she wondered if it were right for boys and girls to act as these were acting. She had never heard that it is wrong to dance, but it did not look or seem right to her. She decided that on reaching home she would ask her mother.

When Bessie got home the next morning, her mother asked, "Well, dear, did you have a good time?"

"Oh, yes," answered Bessie; "most of the time I did." Then she told about the surprise party and about all that had happened, and concluded by asking, "Mama, is it right to dance?"

"I have been thinking for a long time, Bessie, that I ought to have a talk with you about dancing and tell you of some of the evils to which it leads," answered her mother. "Dancing is an amusement that many girls consider very attractive. When asked why they think so, they hardly know what to answer, but generally speak of the music and the graceful motions."

"Oh, Mama, the motions they made at the party last night were anything but graceful. I know you wouldn't have allowed me to do as they did, and I don't want to. It wasn't modest. I never want to go to a dance again."

"I'm so glad, Bessie, you feel as you do about dancing; but, dear, to those who learn, there is something very fascinating about it. Some girls have said they would rather dance than eat; and, with a great many, I believe it is true.

"Men of low character and of evil inclinations regard the dance-hall as a favorable place to betray unsuspecting girls and frequent it for that very purpose. Their victims are usually the sweetest and most trusting girls. Their beauty attracts undesirable attention, and their ignorance makes them an easy prey. O Bessie, there are so many unprincipled men in the world who love to win and betray the confidence of young innocent girls.

"Philosophers tell us that 'perfect happiness comes only from a pleasure attractive to our moral nature in its purity and perfection. If we delight in pleasures of the other sort, our moral natures are degraded.'

"You have noticed the immodest positions taken by those who dance, and you feel a deep sense of shame for them. Should you try to partake of their pleasure, your moral nature would be degraded, and you would in time lose that sense of shame and be as eager for the pleasure as any of the others. Thus yielding, one step at a time, you would cease to look upon the dance as immodest and would find real enjoyment in it, and perhaps would be led into greater sin. It is in this way that many girls lose their virtue. Then they are shunned by their old associates, who are really but a step higher in morality. Forsaken by friends, hopeless as to their future, deserted even by those who wrought their downfall, these poor girls sink lower and lower, and lead lives of shame and misery.

"No spiritual-minded person will take part in worldly amusements, for he can not enjoy them. Christians who indulge in dancing turn away from God and seek fellowship with the world. Such are sure to lose the grace of God from their hearts."

chapter xiii blessing and trial
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