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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

While his intellect was full as much astir


'To

you, mother. Yes, I hope so.'

'And, my dear, you were confirmed. What did that mean?'

'It meant nothing, mother, so far as I was concerned. It amounted to nothing. I did not know what I was doing. I did not think of the meaning the words might bear. It was to me a mere form, done because you wished it, and because it was said to be proper; the right thing to do; I attached no weight to it, and lived just the same after as before. Except that for a few days I went under a little feeling of constraint, I remember, and also carried my head higher with a sense of added dignity.'

'And what is your idea of a Christian now, then?' Mrs. Dallas asked, between trouble and indignation.

'I am merely taking what the Bible says about it, mother.'

'Which every man interprets for himself,' added Mr. Dallas drily.

'Where words are so plain, there can hardly be any question of interpretation. For instance'--

'Let that be,' said Mr. Dallas; 'and tell us, if you can, what is your idea of the "choice" you say you have to make. A choice between what?'

'The one thing runs into the other,' said Pitt; 'but it does not signify at which end we begin. The question is, I suppose, in short, which world I will live for.'

justify;">'Live for both! That is the sensible way.'

'But, if you will pardon me, sir, impracticable.'

'How impracticable?'

'It has been declared so by the highest authority, and it has been found so in practice. I see it to be impracticable.'

'_I_ do not. Where's the impracticability?' Mr. Dallas had wheeled round now and was regarding his son attentively, with a face of superior, cold, rather scornful calm. Mr. Dallas's face was rarely anything else but calm, whatever might be going on beneath the calm. Pitt's face was not exactly so quiet; thought was working in it, and lights and shades sometimes passed over it, which his father carefully studied. 'Where's the impossibility?' he repeated, as Pitt's answer tarried.

'The impossibility of walking two ways at once.'

'Will you explain yourself? I do not see the application.'

He spoke with clear coldness, perhaps expecting that his son would be checked or embarrassed by coming against that barrier to enthusiasm, a cold, hard intellect. Pitt, however, was quite as devoid of enthusiasm at the moment as his father, and far more sure of his ground, while his intellect was full as much astir. His steadiness was not shaken, rather gained force, as he went on to speak, though he did not now lift his eyes, but sat looking down at the white damask which covered the breakfast table, having pushed his plate and cup away from him.

'Father and mother,' he said, 'I have been looking at two opposite goals. On one side there is--what people usually strive for--honour, pleasure, a high place in the world's regard. If I seek that, I know what I have to do. I suppose it is what you want me to do. I should distinguish myself, if I can; climb the heights of greatness; make myself a name, and a place, and then live there, as much above the rest of the world as I can, and enjoying all the advantages of my position. That is about what I thought I would do when I went to Oxford. It is a career bounded by this world, and ended when one quits it. You ask why it is impossible to do this and the other thing too? Just look at it. If I become a servant of Christ, I give up seeking earthly honour; I do not live for my own pleasure; I apply all I have, of talents or means or influence, to doing the will of a Master whose kingdom is not of this world, and whose ways are not liked by the world. I see very plainly what His commands are, and they bid one be unlike the world and separate from it. Do you see the impossibility I spoke of?'


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