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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

If it means only feasting and jollity


dear, they have a foolish fancy that it is the time when Christ was born; and so in Romish times a special Popish mass was said on that day; and from that the twenty-fifth of December got its present name--Christ-mass; that is what it is.'

'Then He was not born the twenty-fifth of December?'

'No, nor in December at all. Nothing is plainer than that spring was the time of our Lord's coming into the world. The shepherds were watching their flocks by night; that could not have been in the depth of winter; it must have been in the spring.'

'Then why don't they have Christmas in springtime?'

'Don't ask _me_, my dear; I don't know. The thing began in the ages of ignorance, I suppose; and as all it means now is a time of feasting and jollity, the dead of winter will do as well as another time. But it is a Popish observance, my child; it is a Popish observance.'

'There's no harm in it, papa, is there? if it means only feasting and jollity, as you say.'

'There is always harm in superstition. This is no more the time of Christ's birth than any other day that you could choose; but there is a superstition about it; and I object to giving a superstitious reverence to what is nothing at all. Reverence the Bible as much as you please; you cannot too much; but do not put any ordinance of

man, whether it be of the Popish church or any other, on a level with what the Bible commands.'

The colonel had finished his toast, and was turning to his book again.

'Pitt has been telling me of the way they keep Christmas in England,' Esther went on. 'The Yule log, and the games, and the songs, and the plays.'

'Godless ways,' said the colonel, settling himself to his reading,--'godless ways! It is a great deal better in this country, where they make nothing of Christmas. No good comes of those things.'

Esther would disturb her father no more by her words, but she went on pondering, unsatisfied. In any question which put Mrs. Dallas and her father on opposite sides, she had no doubt whatever that her father must be in the right; but it was a pity, for surely in the present case Mrs. Dallas's house had the advantage. The Christmas decorations had been so pretty! the look of them was so bright and festive! the walls she had round her at home were bare and stiff and cold. No doubt her father must be right, but it was a pity!

The next day was Christmas day. Pitt being in attendance on his father and mother, busied with the religious and other observances of the festival, Esther did not see him till the afternoon. Late in the day, however, he came, and brought in his hands a large bouquet of hothouse flowers. If the two had been alone, Esther would have greeted him and them with very lively demonstrations; as it was, it amused the young man to see the sparkle in her eye, and the lips half opened for a cry of joy, and the sudden flush on her cheek, and at the same time the quiet, unexcited demeanour she maintained. Esther rose indeed, but then stood silent and motionless and said not a word; while Pitt paid his compliments to her father. A new fire flashed from her eye when at last he approached her and offered her the flowers.

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