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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

'Colonel Gainsborough gave up the argument


'I

was sure he would be glad for me, papa. Once, a good while ago, I asked Pitt what could be the meaning of a verse in the Bible; that beautiful verse in Numbers; and he could not tell me, though what he said gave me a great help. So I knew he would remember, and he would be glad. And I want him to know Jesus too.'

The colonel felt a little twinge of jealousy here; but Esther did not know, he reflected, that her own father was in equal destitution of that knowledge. Or was it all visionary that she had been saying, and his view of religion the right one after all? It _must_ be the right one. Yet his religion had never given his face the expression that shone in Esther's now. It almost hurt him.

'And now you have comfort?' he said, after a moment's pause.

'Yes, papa. More than comfort.'

'Because you think that God looks upon you with favour.'

'Because I love Him, papa. I know Him and I love Him. And I know He loves me, and will do everything for me.'

'How do you know it?' asked the colonel almost harshly. 'That sounds to me rather presuming. You may hope it; but how can you know it?'

'He has made me know it, papa. And He has said it in the Bible. I just believe what He says.'

Colonel Gainsborough gave up

the argument. Before Esther's face of quiet confidence he felt himself baffled. If she were wrong, he could not prove her wrong. Uneasy and worsted, he gave up the discussion; but thought he would not have any more letters go to William Dallas.

And as the days went on, he watched furtively his daughter. He had not been mistaken in his observations that evening. A steadfastness of sweet happiness was about her, beautifying and elevating all she did and all she was. Fair quiet on the brow, loving gladness on the lips, and hands of ready ministry. She had always been a dutiful child, faithful in her ministering; but now the service was not of duty, but of love, and gracious accordingly, as the service of duty can never be. The colonel watched, and saw something of the difference, without being able, however, to come at a satisfactory understanding of it. He saw how, under this influence of love and gladness, his child was becoming the rarest of servants to him; and more still, how under it she was developing into a most exquisite personal beauty. He watched her, as if by watching he might catch something of the secret mental charm by virtue of which these changes were wrought. But 'the secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him;' and it cannot be communicated from one to another.

As has been mentioned, Pitt's letters after he got to work at Oxford became much fewer and scantier. It was only at very rare intervals that one came to Colonel Gainsborough; and Esther made no proposition of writing to England again. On that subject the colonel ceased to take any thought. It was otherwise with Pitt's family.

Mrs. Dallas sat one evening pondering over the last letter received from her son. It was early autumn; a little fire burning in the chimney, towards which the master of the house stretched out his legs, lying very much at his ease in an old-fashioned chaise lounge, and turning over an English newspaper. His attitude bespoke the comfortable ease and carelessness of his mind, on which certainly nothing lay heavy. His wife was in all things a contrast. Her handsome, stately figure was yielding at the moment to no blandishments of comfort or luxury; she sat upright, with Pitt's letter in her hand, and on her brow there was an expression of troubled consideration.


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