My father opened the day with family worship, which always seemed to put us in tune for the morning, and spread a balmy influence over us. I well remember the portion of Scripture he read was the seventeenth chapter of St. John’s Gospel, which, I need not remind you, contains this verse—“I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” My father dwelt on this in his prayer, and said, “Lord, I know that these dear young people cannot pass through life without hearing and seeing much of evil: but, oh, keep them unspotted by it! Let an atmosphere of sanctity and safety surround them even in the midst of the fires, that they receive no hurt. In their allowed pleasures and pastimes, let them wear that spiritual hauberk which is invulnerable to the darts of the wicked; let them steadfastly set their faces against whatever thy word disallows; and, should fiery trial and temptation beset them, enable them, having done all, to stand.”
I am confident that these were as nearly as possible the very words of my father; for they made an impression on me that I could hardly account for: and as he had recently been explaining to the children the nature of a hauberk, as a coat of defensive armor, and remarking on its pliancy and being often worn out of sight, the metaphor fixed itself in my memory.
We had a substantial breakfast of soup and bread before we started; and then drove in state to M. Bourdinave’s door, where I sprang out to help the smiling girls into the char-a-banc. I would gladly have had Madeleine next me, but, as ill-luck would have it, M. Bourdinave placed himself at my side, and my father just behind; so that I was completely shut out from her, to my great chagrin. However, if I could not see her, unless by looking round, I knew she could see me; so I carried myself my best, and flourished my whip in fine style.
And thus we went to the Fair of Beaucaire. As we passed Les Arenes, that famous Roman amphitheatre in the centre of our city, I heard my father and his old friend allude to its former uses, without paying much heed to them. I believe they reminded one another that not only wild beasts but Christians had formerly been put to death there, for the recreation of those who were wild beasts themselves; and my father said how he hated the Sunday bull-fights that took place there still, and never would let me go near them; on which I put in soberly, “I never want to, father.”
“Thou art a steady lad, I’ll warrant thee,” said M. Bourdinave, approvingly. “Hold fast the form of sound words which hath been given thee in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.”