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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

A dissenter is one who dissents


'No,

papa.'

'Did you have your lesson?'

'No, papa.'

'Why not?'

'Pitt was talking to somebody.'

The colonel made no further remark, and the room was very still for awhile. Until after au hour or more the colonel's book went down; and then Esther from her window spoke again.

'Papa, if you please, what is a "dissenter"?'

'A _what?_' demanded the colonel, rousing himself.

'A "dissenter," papa.'

'What do you know about dissenters?'

'Nothing, papa. What is it?'

'What makes you ask?'

'I heard the word, papa, and I didn't know what it meant.'

'There is no need you should know what it means. A dissenter is one who dissents.'

'From what, sir?'

'From something that other people believe in.'

'But, papa, according to that, then, everybody is a dissenter; and that is not true, is it?'

'What has put the question into your head?'

'I heard somebody speaking of dissenters.'

justify;">'Whom?'

'Mrs. Dallas.'

'Ah!' The colonel smiled grimly. 'She might be speaking of you and me.'

Esther knew that to have been the fact, but she did not say so. She only asked,

'What do we dissent from, papa?'

'We dissent from the notion that form is more than substance, and the kernel less valuable than the shell.'

This told Esther nothing. She was mystified; at the same time, her respect for her father did not allow her to press further a question he seemed to avoid.

'Is Pitt a dissenter, papa?'

'There is no need you should trouble your head with the question of dissent, my child. In England there is an Established Church; all who decline to come into it are there called Dissenters.'

'Does it tire you to have me ask questions, papa?'

'No.'

'Who established the Church there?'

'The Government.'

'What for?'

'Wanted to rule men's consciences as well as their bodies.'

'But a government cannot do that, papa?'

'They have tried, Esther. Tried by fire and sword, and cruelty, and persecution; by fines and imprisonments and disqualifications. Some submitted, but a goodly number dissented, and our family has always belonged to that honourable number. See you do it no discredit. The Gainsboroughs were always Independents; we fought with Cromwell, and suffered under the Stuarts. We have an unbroken record of striving for the right. Keep to your traditions, my dear.'


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