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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Dallas met the look with one of intense worry and perplexity


'But,

my dear, you _are_ a Christian.'

'Am I? Since when, mother?'

'Pitt, you were baptized in infancy,--you were baptized by that good and excellent Bishop Downing, as good a man, and as holy, as ever was consecrated, here or anywhere. He baptized you before you were two months old. That made you a Christian, my boy.'

'What sort of a one, mother?'

'Why, my dear, you were taught your catechism. Have you forgotten it? In baptism you were made "a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven." You have learned those words, often enough, and said them over.'

'That will do to talk about, mother,' said Pitt slowly; 'but in what sense is it true?'

'My dear!--in every sense. How can you ask? It is part of the Prayer-Book.'

'It is not part of my experience. Up to this time, my life and conscience know nothing about it. Mother, the Bible gives certain marks of the people whom it calls "disciples" and "Christians." I do not find them in myself.'

Pitt lifted his head and looked at his mother as he spoke; a grave, frank, most manly expression filling his face. Mrs. Dallas met the look with one of intense worry and perplexity. 'What do you mean?' she said helplessly; while a sudden shove of

her husband's chair spoke for _his_ mood of mind, in its irritated restlessness. 'Marks?' she repeated. 'Christians are not _marked_ from other people.'

'As I read the Bible, it seems to me they must be.'

'I do not understand you,' she said shortly. 'I hope you will explain yourself.'

'I owe it to you to answer,' the young man said thoughtfully; 'it is better, perhaps, you should know where I am, that you may at least be patient with me if I do not respond quite as you would wish to your expectations. Mother, I have been studying this matter a great while; but as to the preliminary question, whether I am already what the Bible describes Christians to be, I have been under no delusion at all. The marks are plain enough, and they are not in me.'

'What marks?'

'It is a personal matter,' Pitt went on a little unwillingly; 'it must be fought through somehow in my own mind; but some things are plain enough. Mother, the servants of Christ "follow" Him; it is the test of their service; I never did, nor ever thought or cared what the words meant. The children of God are known by the fact that they love Him and keep his commandments. So the Bible says. I have not loved Him, and have not asked about His commandments. I have always sought my own pleasure. The heirs of the kingdom of heaven have chosen that world instead of this; and between the two is just the choice I have yet to make. That is precisely where I am.'

'But, my dear Pitt,' said Mrs. Dallas, while her husband kept an ominous silence, 'you have always led a most blameless life. I think you judge yourself too hardly. You have been a good son, always!' and her eyes filled, partly with affection and partly with chagrin. To what was all this tending? 'You have _always_ been a good son,' she repeated.


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