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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

But it is Miss Frere and I who are disputing


does it mean?' asked Pitt.

'My dear,' said his mother, 'can there be a question what it means? The words are perfectly simple, it seems to me.'

'Mamma, I am not talking to you. You may sit as judge and arbiter; but it is Miss Frere and I who are disputing. She will have the goodness to answer.'

'I do not know what to answer,' said the young lady. 'Are not the words, as Mrs. Dallas says, perfectly plain?'

'Then surely it cannot be difficult to say what the teaching of them is?'

If it was not difficult, the continued silence of the lady was remarkable. She made no further answer.

'_Are_ they so plain? I have been puzzling over them. I will divide the question, and perhaps we can get at the conclusion better so. In the first place, who are these "servants" spoken of?'

'Everybody, I suppose. You have the advantage of me, Mr. Dallas; I have _not_ been studying the passage.'

'Yet you admit that we are bound to obey it.'

'Yes,' she said doubtfully. 'Obey what?'

'That is precisely what I want to find out. Now the servants; they cannot mean everybody, for it says, he "called _his own_ servants;" the Greek is "bond-servants."'

justify;">'His servants would be His Church then.'

'His own people. "He delivered unto them His goods." What are the goods he delivered to them? Some had more, some had less; all had a share and a charge. What are these goods?'

'I don't know,' said Miss Frere, looking at him.

'What were they to do with these goods?'

'Trade with them, it seems.'

'In Luke the command runs so: "Trade till I come." Trading is a process by which the goods or the money concerned are multiplied. What are the goods given to you and me?--to bring the question down into the practical. It must be something with which we may increase the wealth of Him who has entrusted it to us.'

'Pitt, that is a very strange way of speaking,' said his mother.

'I am talking to Miss Frere, mamma. You have only to hear and judge between us. Miss Frere, the question comes to you.'

'I should say it is not possible to increase "His wealth."'

'That is not _my_ putting of the case, remember. And also, every enlargement of His dominion in this world, every addition made to the number of His subjects, may be fairly spoken of so. The question stands, What are the goods? That is, if you like to go into it. I am not catechizing you,' said Pitt, half laughing.

'I do not dislike to be catechized,' said Miss Frere slowly. _By you_, was the mental addition. 'But I never had such a question put to me before, and I am not ready with an answer.'

'I never heard the question discussed either,' said Pitt. 'But I was reading this passage yesterday, and could not help starting it. The "goods" must be, I think, all those gifts or powers by means of which we can work for God, and so work as to enlarge His kingdom. Now, what are they?'

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