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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Calcott said I had been studying too hard


'To

Dr. Calcott of Oxford, and to Dr. Plympton, the rector of the church to which Uncle Strahan goes.'

'What did they say?'

'Dr. Calcott said I had been studying too hard, and wanted a little distraction; he thought I was morbid, and warned me against possible listening to Methodists. Said I was a good fellow, only it was a mistake to try to be _too_ good; the consequence would be a break-down. Whether physical or moral, he did not say; I was left to apprehend both.'

'That is very much as I think myself, only not the fear of break-downs. I see no signs of that in you, my boy. What did the other, Dr.--whom did you say?--what did he tell you?'

'Dr. Plympton. He said he did not understand what I would be at.'

'I agree with him too,' said Mrs. Dallas, laughing a little. Pitt did not laugh.

'I quoted some words to him out of the Bible, and he said he did not know what they meant.'

'I should think he ought to know.'

'So I thought. But he said it was for the Church to decide what they meant.'

Mrs. Dallas was greatly at a loss, and growing more and more uneasy. Pitt went on in such a quiet, meditative way, not asking help of her, and, she fancied, not intending to ask it of anybody.

Suddenly, however, he lifted his head and turned himself far enough round to enable him to look in her face.

'Mother,' said he, 'what do you think those words mean in one of the psalms,--"Thou hast made me exceeding glad with thy countenance"?'

'Are they in the Psalms? I do not know.'

'You have read them a thousand times! In the psalter translation the wording is a little different, but it comes to the same thing.'

'I never knew what they meant, my boy. There are a great many things in the Bible that we cannot understand.'

'But is this one of them? "Exceeding glad--_with thy countenance_." David knew what he meant.'

'The Psalmist was inspired. Of course he understood a great many things which we do not.'

'We ought to understand some things that he did not, I should think. But this is a bit of personal experience--not abstruse teaching. David was "exceeding glad"--and what made him glad? that I want to know.'

Pitt's thoughts were busy with the innocent letter he had once received, in which a young and unlearned girl had given precisely the same testimony as the inspired royal singer. Precisely the same. And surely what Esther had found, another could find, and he might find. But while he was musing, Mrs. Dallas grew more and more uneasy. She knew better than to try the force of persuasion upon her son. It would not avail; and Mrs. Dallas was a proud woman, too proud to ask what would not be granted, or to resist forcefully what she might not resist successfully. She never withstood her husband's plans, or asked him to change them, except in cases when she knew her opposition could be made effective; so it did not at all follow that she was pleased where she made no effort to hinder. It was the same in the case of her son, though rarely proved until now. In the consciousness of her want of power she was tempted to be a little vexed.


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