“It is Mr. Johnsen, the new school-inspector! No, it isn’t! Yes, it is! It is Mr. Johnsen! Do you think I don’t know him, although he has got a new coat? I declare, he is coming in!”
“Clementine, you have taken my cuffs! Yes, you have! They were on the piano. He is only going in to see father. Clara, Clara! you are standing on my dress! Here he is! It is a visit! Who can have taken my cuffs?”
Mrs. Sparre was not long in getting them into order. The street door was opened. There was a moment’s breathless expectation in the room. It was agreed that Miss Barbara, the eldest, was to say, “Come in,” and as all eyes were fixed upon her, she became quite pale with emotion. A knock at the door was heard; but it was at the study door, and the dean said, “Come in!” The door was heard to open, and a subdued conversation began in the room.
“I told you he was only going to see father.”
“Yes, and so did I,” another said. “What was the good of rushing about looking for your cuffs?”
“I didn’t rush about!”
“Yes, you did!”
“Hush! I wonder what he wants with father?” said Mrs. Sparre. All were silent, but they could not hear anything of the conversation which was going on in the other room.
Mr. Johnsen had come to ask the dean to fulfil the promise he had made to him some weeks previously, and to kindly give him permission to preach in the church the next Sunday. The dean had not forgotten his promise, and was only too glad to have an opportunity of fulfilling it. He also begged to thank Mr. Johnsen for his goodness in offering to assist him in his duties.
As far as that went, answered Mr. Johnsen, he would not conceal from him that it was not so much consideration for the weight of his duties which had impelled him to make the request. He must confess, that it was rather that he wished to have an opportunity of addressing the congregation on a personal matter.
The dean could quite feel that his connection with the school would lead to the desire of speaking a few words to the parents of the children who were entrusted to his care.
But this again was not exactly the subject on which Mr. Johnsen wished to speak. There were many things which might weigh on the mind and oppress the thoughts. It would be better, once for all, to disburden the conscience by coming forward honestly and truthfully.
The dean allowed that the idea was only natural. It was the duty of every Christian, and especially of a clergyman, to speak truthfully. But sincerity was a rare virtue, and was often hidden under the changing circumstances of life. But great care would be necessary. It was of the first importance to examine closely both one’s mind and one’s composition.
Johnsen was able to say honestly that he had arrived at his conclusions after earnest thought and conscientious inquiry, and that his conviction was the result of many lonely hours of self-examination.