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Chapter Twenty-six

Immediately after arriving home from the hospital that evening
Ruth Troulson phoned elder Harold Brainard.

"I know it's after nine o'clock, Brother Brainard," she began, "but
this is important."

"No need to apologize, Sister Troulson," he reassured her. "I realize
what a difficult time you folks must be going though with your little
Tommy in the hospital. How can I be of help?"

"Well, its not Tommy I'm calling about, Brother Brainard. It's
young brother Randy Mason."

"Oh? Did someone discover his role in getting Tommy out of the

"No. Nothing like that." Ruth hesitated a moment after this
reminder of how helpful Randy had just been to her. Still, she
persisted with what she knew to be her duty. "When Ralph and I had
dinner tonight at McDonald's across from the hospital, Brother Mason
was sitting in the next booth with a worldly girl. He's evidently dating
her, and their conversation sounded quite intimate."

"Oh, my! Well, you did the right thing in phoning me, Sister
Troulson. I'll see to it that the elders look into the matter right away."

"But I'm afraid there's even more to it than that, Brother Brainard.
Although they couldn't see us, we were close enough to hear
everything they said, and much of what they spoke about was
outright apostasy. This worldly girl was leading brother Mason right
out of the Truth, telling him lies about God's organization and calling
into question the doctrines we've been taught. It all seemed to be
aimed at getting him to break integrity on the blood issue. But, of
course, Satan the devil must just be using her and all her charms to
lure him away from the Truth every which way he can. My husband
Ralph heard every word too and saw them together when we got up to
leave, so there are two witnesses to what brother Mason has done."

"Well, that's good because we might just need both of you to testify
if he doesn't confess freely when we meet with him."

"I'll call you right away if Ralph and I catch him saying or doing
anything more when we're at the hospital tomorrow. Good night,
Brother Brainard."

Listening to his wife's end of the conversation, Ralph was
extremely upset but forced himself to keep silent. How could she do
this to Randy Mason after all that he had risked for them just a day
earlier? Moreover, Ralph had been favorably impressed by Jill
French, both in her performance at the hospital and in her
conversation with Randy. In fact, had he been single and a few years
younger, he might even have been envious of the Mason boy. And
besides, the arguments brought up by the pretty nurse concerning the
use of blood transfusions made sense -- especially after all that Ralph
had experienced and observed in recent days.

He had wanted to stop Ruth from making the phone call. And,
when she got off the phone he wanted even more so to share with her
his new thoughts on the matter. But he decided it would be better to
let her cool down and to bring it up in their quiet time when they both
laid down in bed for the night.

So, after they had snuggled in together but before reaching over to
switch off the light, Ralph cautiously broached the subject.
"You know, sweetheart, I remember my dad talking about a time,
years ago, when the friends used to avoid vaccinations the same way
we avoid blood today. And Sister Karellis in Framingham -- you know,
the blind sister in the wheelchair -- I remember hearing that she had
refused an operation that might have saved her vision, because the
Society was teaching at that time that cornea transplants were a form
of cannibalism. Honey, do you suppose . . ."

"Listen, Ralph," his wife interrupted with such force that he almost
bit his lip, "don't you dare start talking to me like that! That's flirting
with apostate thinking. Don't you think I have enough to cope with
already, with our son being tortured in the hospital and brothers in
the congregation turning against Jehovah God right and left? How can
you listen to the devil and let him wreck your standing in the
congregation, and even our marriage? Don't you say another word to

With that, she pulled her pillow over her ears and turned violently
onto her side, leaving Ralph looking at her back and her pillow. He
knew right then that the discussion was over; no matter where his
thinking might lead him, he would never be able to share those
thoughts with his wife. For her sake and for the boy's sake he would
have to mouth organizational doctrine whether he still believed in it
or not. And he would even have to testify against Randy Mason,
should it ever come to that.

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