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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

'Quick as thought it flashed upon Betty


'I

think it was very happy, as regarded the choice of the hymn; it was peculiar, but very effective. My question meant, why did you sing a hymn at all?'

'I will tell you,' said the other. 'I do not know if you will understand me. I sang that, because I have given myself to Christ, and my voice must be used only as His servant.'

Quick as thought it flashed upon Betty, the words she had heard Pitt Dallas quote so lately, quote and descant upon, about giving his body 'a living sacrifice.' 'How you two think alike!' was her instant reflection; 'and how you would fit if you could come together!--which you never shall, if I can prevent it.' But her face showed only serious attention and interest.

'I do _not_ quite understand,' she said. 'Your words are so unusual'--

'I cannot put my meaning in simpler words.'

'Then do you think it wrong to sing common songs?--those everybody sings?'

'_I_ cannot sing them,' said Esther simply. 'My voice is Christ's servant.' But the smile with which these (to Betty) severe words were spoken was entirely charming. There was not severity but gladness upon every line of the curving lips, along with a trait of tenderness which touched Betty's heart. In all her life she had never had such a feeling of inferiority. She had given due reverence to persons

older than herself; it was the fashion in those days; she had acknowledged a certain social precedence in ladies who were leaders of society and heads of families; she had never had such a feeling of being set down, as before this young, pure, stately creature. Mentally, Betty, as it were, stepped down from the dais and stood with her arms folded over her breast, in the Eastern attitude of reverence, during the rest of the interview.

'Then you do not do anything,' said Betty incredulously, 'if you cannot do it _so?_'

'Not if I know it,' the other said, smiling more broadly and with some archness.

'But still--may I speak frankly?--that does not tell me all. You know--you _must_ know--that not everybody would like your choice of music?'

'I suppose, very few.'

'Would it do any good, in any way, to displease them?'

'That is not the first question. The first question, in any case, is, How may I best do this thing for God?--for His honour and His kingdom.'

'I do not see what His honour and His kingdom have to do with it.'

'It is for His honour that His servants should obey Him, is it not?' said Esther, with another smile. 'And is it not for His kingdom, that His invitations should be given?'

'But _here?_'

'Why not here?'

'It is unusual.'

'I have no business to be anywhere where I cannot do it.'

'That sounds--dreadful!' said Betty honestly.

'Why?'

'Oh, it sounds strict, narrow, like a sort of slavery, as if one could never be free.'

'Free for what?'

'Whatever one likes! I should be miserable if I felt I could not do what I liked!'

'Can you do it now?' said Esther.

'Well, not always; but I am free to try,' said Betty frankly.

'Is that your definition of happiness?--to try for that which you cannot attain.'


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