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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

' repeated Esther breathlessly


'The

people "that had it"? That had what?'

'This wonderful thing.'

'What wonderful thing?'

'Queen Esther, you ought to ask your father.'

'I can't ask papa,' said the little girl. 'If ever I speak to him of comfort, he thinks directly of mamma. I cannot ask him again.'

'And I am all your dependence?' he said half lightly.

'I mustn't depend upon you either. Only, now you are here, I thought I would ask you.'

'You ought to have a better counsellor. However, perhaps I can tell what you want to know, in part. Queen Esther, was your mother, or your father, ever seriously displeased with you?'

Esther reflected, a little astonished, and then said no.

'I suppose not!' said Pitt. 'Then you don't know by experience what it would be, to have either of them refuse to look at you or smile upon you?--hide their face from you, in short?'

'Why, no! never.'

'You're a happy girl.'

'But what has that to do with it?'

'Nothing to do with it; it is the very contrast and opposite, in fact. Don't you see? "Lift up the light of thy countenance;"--you know what

the "light" of a smiling, loving face of approval is? You know _that_, Queen Esther?'

'That?' repeated Esther breathlessly. 'Yes, I know; but this is God.'

'Yes, and I do not understand; but that is what it means.'

'You don't understand!'

'No. How should I? But that is what it means. Something that answers to what among us a bright face of love is, when it smiles upon us. That is "light," isn't it?'

'Yes,' said Esther. 'But how can this be, Pitt?'

'I cannot tell. But that is what it means. "The Lord make His face to shine upon thee." They are very fine words.'

'Then I suppose,' said Esther slowly, 'if anybody had _that_, he wouldn't want comfort?'

'He wouldn't be without it, you mean? Well, I should think he would not. "The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace."'

'But I don't understand, Pitt.'

'No, Queen Esther. This is something beyond you and me.'

'How can one come to understand?'

Pitt was silent a minute, looking down at the words. 'I do not know,' he said. 'That is a question. It is a look of favour and love described here; but of course it would not give peace, unless the person receiving it knew he had it. How that can be, I do not see.'

Both were silent a little while.


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