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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Certainly Pitt was 'persistent


Miss

Betty mused. Certainly Pitt was 'persistent.' And now he had got this religious idea in his head, would there be any managing it, or him? It did not frighten Miss Betty, so far as the religious idea itself was concerned; she reflected sagely that a man might be worse things than philanthropic, or even than pious. She had seen wives made unhappy by neglect, and others made miserable by the dissipated habits or the ungoverned tempers of their husbands; a man need not be unendurable because he was true and thoughtful and conscientious, or even devout. She could bear that, quite easily; the only thing was, that in thoughts which possessed Pitt lately he had passed out of her influence; beyond her reach. All she could do was to follow him into this new and very unwonted sphere, and seem to be as earnest as he was. He met her, he reasoned with her, he read to her, but Betty did not feel sure that she got any nearer to him, nevertheless. She was shrewd enough to divine the reason.

'Mr. Pitt,' she said frankly to him one day, when the talk had been eager in the same line it had taken that first day on the verandah, and both parties had held the same respective positions with regard to each other,--'Mr. Pitt, are you fighting me, or yourself?'

He paused and looked at her, and half laughed.

'You are right,' said he. And then he went off, and for the present that was all Miss Betty gained

by her motion.

Nobody saw much of Pitt during the rest of the day. The next morning, after breakfast, he came out to the two ladies where as usual they were sitting at work. It was another September day of sultry heat, yet the verandah was also in the morning a pleasant place, sweet with the honeysuckle fragrance still lingering, and traversed by a faint intermittent breeze. Both ladies raised their heads to look at the young man as he came towards them, and then, struck by something in his face, could not take their eyes away. He came straight to his mother and stood there in front of her, looking down and meeting her look; Miss Frere could not see how, but evidently it troubled Mrs. Dallas.

'What is it now, Pitt?' she asked.

'I have come to tell you, mother. I have come to tell you that I have given up fighting.'

'Fighting!?'

'Yes. The battle is won, and I have lost, and gained. I have given up fighting, mother, and I am Christ's free man.'

'What?' exclaimed Mrs. Dallas bewilderedly.

'It is true, mother. I am Christ's servant. The things are the same. How should I not be the servant, the _bond-servant_, of Him who has made a free man of me?'

His tone was not excited; it was quiet and sweet; but Mrs. Dallas was excited.

'A free man? My boy, what are you saying? Were you not always free?'


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