After the children are sleepy we do not keep them up to recite the “Larger Catechism.” During summer vacation, when we have no evening service to attend at church, we sometimes have a few chapters of a Christian book read or a column of a Christian newspaper, or if any one has an essay on any religious theme, we hear that.
We tarry long after the tea has got cold. We do not care if the things are not cleared off till next morning. If any one has a perplexing passage of Scripture to explain, we gather all the lights possible on that subject. We send up stairs for concordance and Bible dictionary. It may be ten o’clock at night before the group is dispersed from the Sabbath evening tea-table.
Some of the chapters following may be considered as conversations condensed or as paragraphs read. You will sometimes ascribe them to the host, at other times to the hostess, at other times to the strangers within the gates.
Old Dominie Scattergood often came in on Sabbath evenings. He was too old to preach, and so had much leisure. Now, an old minister is a great joy to us, especially if life has put sugar rather than vinegar in his disposition. Dominie Scattergood had in his face and temper the smiles of all the weddings he had ever solemnized, and in his hand-shaking all the hearty congratulations that had ever been offered him.
His hair was as white as any snow-bank through which he had waded to meet his appointments. He sympathized with every one, could swing from mood to mood very easily, and found the bridge between laughter and tears a short one and soon crossed. He was like an orchard in October after some of the frosts, the fruit so ripe and mellow that the least breeze would fill the laps of the children. He ate scarcely anything at the tea-table, for you do not want to put much fuel in an engine when it has nearly reached the depot. Old Dominie Scattergood gave his entire time to religious discourse when he sat with us at the close of the Lord’s day.
How calm and bright and restful the light that falls on the Sabbath evening tea-table! Blessed be its memories for ever and ever! and Jessie, and De Witt, and May, and Edith, and Frank, and the baby, and all the visitors, old and young, thick-haired and bald-headed, say Amen!
The warm heart of Christ.
The first night that old Dominie Scattergood sat at our tea-table, we asked him whether he could make his religion work in the insignificant affairs of life, or whether he was accustomed to apply his religion on a larger scale. The Dominie turned upon us like a day-dawn, and addressed us as follows: