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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

''Miss Gainsborough will say that


'I

do attain it,--sometimes.'

'And keep it?'

'Keep it? You cannot keep anything in this world.'

'I do not think anything is happiness, that you cannot keep.'

'But--if you come to that--what _can_ you keep?' said Betty.

Esther bent forward a little, and said, with an intense gleam in her grey eyes, which seemed to dance and sparkle,

'"Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever."'

'I do not know Him,' Betty breathed out, after staring at her companion.

'I saw that.'

Esther rose, and Betty felt constrained to rise too.

'Oh, are you going?' she cried. 'I have not done talking. How can I know Him?'

'Do you wish me to tell you?'

'Indeed, yes.'

'If you are in dead earnest, and seek Him, He will reveal Himself to you. But then, you must be willing to obey every word He says. Good night.'

She offered her hand. Before Miss Frere, however, could take it, up came the lady of the house.

'You are not _going_, Miss Gainsborough?'

'My

father would be uneasy if I stayed out late.'

'Oh, well, for once! What have you two been talking about? I saw several gentlemen casting longing looks in this direction, but they did not venture to interrupt. What were you discussing?'

'Life in general,' said Betty.

'Life!' echoed the older woman, and her brow was instantly clouded. 'What is the use of talking about that? Can either of you say that her life is not a failure?'

'Miss Gainsborough will say that,' replied Betty. 'As for me, my life is a problem that I have not solved.'

'What do you mean by a "failure," Mrs. Chatsworth?' the other girl asked.

'Oh, just a failure! Turning out nothing, coming to nothing; nothing, I mean, that is satisfying. "_Tout lasse,--tout casse,--tout passe!_" A true record; but isn't it sorrowful?'

'I do not think it need be true,' said Esther.

'It is not true with you?'

'No, certainly not.'

'Your smile says more than your words. What a smile! My dear, I envy you. And yet I do not. You have got to wake up from all that. You are seventeen, eighteen--nineteen, is it?--and you have not found out yet that the world is hollow and your doll stuffed with sawdust.'

'But the world is not all.'

'Isn't it? What is?'

'The Lord said, "He that believeth on me hath everlasting life."'

'Everlasting life! In the next world! Oh yes, my dear, but I was speaking of life now.'

'Does not everlasting life begin now?' said Esther, with another of those rare smiles. They were so rare and so beautiful that Betty had come to watch for them,--arch, bright, above all happy, and full of a kind of loving power. 'The Lord said "hath"; He did not say will "have."'


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