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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

Who sees a sunbeam for one hour in the twenty four


'But

that takes time?'

'Yes.'

'A great deal of time, if it is to be done often.'

'Yes.'

'Mr. Pitt, if you follow out that sort of business, it would leave you time for nothing else.'

'What better can I do with my time?'

'Just suppose everybody did the like!'

'Suppose they did.'

'What would be the state of things?'

'I should say, the world would be in a better state of health; and that elephant we once spoke of would not shake his head quite so often.'

'But you are not the elephant, as I pointed out, if I remember; the world does not rest on your head.'

'Part of it does. Go on and answer my question. What ought I to do for these people of whom I have told you?'

'But you cannot reach everybody. You can reach only a few.'

'Yes. For those few, what ought I to do?'

'I daresay you know of other cases, that you have not said anything about, equally miserable?'

'_More_ miserable, I assure you,' said Pitt, looking at her. 'What then? Answer my question, like a good woman.'

style="text-align: justify;">'I am not a good woman.'

'Answer it _like_ a good woman, anyhow,' said Pitt, smiling. 'What should I do, properly, for such people as those I have brought to your notice? Apply the golden rule--the only one that _can_ give the measure of things. In their place, what would you wish--and have a right to wish--that some one should do for you? what may those who have nothing demand from those who have everything?'

'Why, they could demand all you have got!'

'Not justly. Cannot you set your imagination to work and answer me? I am not talking for nothing. Take my old Christian, near eighty, who sees a sunbeam for one hour in the twenty-four, when the sun shines, and uses it to read her Bible. The rest of the twenty-four hours without even the company of a sunbeam. Imagine--what would you, in her place, wish for?'

'I should wish to die, I think.'

'It would be welcome to Mrs. Gregory, I do not doubt, though perhaps for a different reason. Still, you would not counsel suicide, or manslaughter. While you continued in life, what would you like?'

'Oh,' said Betty, with an emphatic utterance, 'I would like a place where I could breathe!'

'Better lodgings?'

'Fresh air. I would beg for air. Of all the horrors of such places, the worst seems to me the want of air fit to breathe.'

'Then you think she ought to have a better lodging, in a better quarter. She cannot pay for it. I can. Ought I to give it to her?'


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