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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Pitt opened his book and turned over a few leaves


'Then

you think, distinctly, that we ought to obey the words of the Bible?'

'Ye-s,' she said, wondering what was coming.

'_All_ the words?'

'Yes, I suppose so. All the words, according to their real meaning.'

'How are we to know what that is?'

'I suppose--the Church tells us.'

'Where?'

'I do not know--in books, I suppose.'

'What books? But we are going a little wild. May I bring you an instance or two? I am talking in earnest, and mean it earnestly.'

'Do you ever do anything in any other way?' asked the young lady, with a charming air of fine raillery and recognition blended. 'Certainly; I am in earnest too.'

Pitt went away and returned with a book in his hand.

'What have you there? the Prayer-book?' his mother asked, with a doubtful expression.

'No, mamma; I like to go to the Fountain-head of authority as well as of learning.'

'The Fountain-head!' exclaimed Mrs. Dallas, in indignant protest; and then she remembered her wisdom, and said no more. It cost her an effort; however, she knew that for her to set up a defence of either Church or

Prayer-book just then would not be wise, and that she had better leave the matter in Betty's hands. She looked at Betty anxiously. The young lady's face showed her cool and collected, not likely to be carried away by any stream of enthusiasm or overborne by influence. It was, in fact, more cool than she felt. She liked to get into a good talk with Pitt upon any subject, and so far was content; at the same time she would rather have chosen any other than this, and was a little afraid whereto it might lead. Religion had not been precisely her principal study. True, it had not been his principal study either; but Betty discerned a difference in their modes of approaching it. She attributed that to the Puritan or dissenting influences which had at some time got hold of him. To thwart those would at any rate be a good work, and she prepared herself accordingly.

Pitt opened his book and turned over a few leaves.

'To begin with,' he said, 'you admit that whatever this book commands we are bound to obey?'

'Provided we understand it,' his opponent put in.

'Provided we understand it, of course. A command not understood is hardly a command. Now here is a word which has struck me, and I would like to know how it strikes you.'

He turned to the familiar twenty-fifth of Matthew and read the central portion, the parable of the talents. He read like an interested man, and perhaps it was owing to a slight unconscious intonation here and there that Pitt's two hearers listened as if the words were strangely new to them. They had never heard them sound just so. Yet the reading was not dramatic at all; it was only a perfectly natural and feeling deliverance. But feeling reaches feeling, as we all know. The reading ceased, nobody spoke for several minutes.


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